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Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown


Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We present now the bill to fund the Federal Government for the remainder of the fiscal year. This legislation provides funding for essential Federal programs and services, helps maintain our national security, and takes a potential government shutdown off the table.

The House passed a very similar version of this bill just 2 weeks ago, and yesterday the Senate passed their version of this legislation. Now it's back before the House today for our final stamp of approval.

I'm sure I don't need to remind the Members of the deadline that we face here. The existing continuing resolution expires next Wednesday, so it's vital that we get this bill to the President for his signature straightaway.

The total funding provided in the bill remains at $984 billion, the level required by the President's sequestration order.

To summarize the contents of this bill briefly, Mr. Speaker, it contains full funding for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, exactly what the House approved the other week. Without the additional flexibility provided in this bill, the Pentagon could face severe funding constraints, even beyond sequestration, potentially jeopardizing our national security.

In addition to addressing our military equipment and readiness needs, it also provides for the quality of life and health of our troops and veterans. We've added an additional $2.5 billion for the VA to ensure our Nation's warfighters receive the benefits they have earned for their service.

The Senate added to the bill we passed three additional full-year appropriations bills to H.R. 933, the ones for Homeland Security, Commerce, Justice and Science, and Agriculture.

Now, Mr. Speaker, these were the bills that passed the House, by large margins, with bipartisan backing, and are now, by the Senate, reinserted into the CR for the balance of the year. And it pleases this Member and this chairman that those bills were picked up and certified into the CR that we're passing today.

This funding will support critical law enforcement agencies, protect our Nation's borders and food supplies, and provide important agriculture and rural development investments. We've ensured that critical government services, like food and nutrition assistance programs, remain available to those who need them most.

These updated spending and funding levels will help keep our economy on the path toward recovery, supporting U.S. trade, manufacturing, and job creation. In the other departments and agencies covered by the bill, both the House and Senate made limited, technical changes where absolutely necessary to prevent extensive waste of taxpayer dollars and to avoid any serious and irreversible damage to government programs, and to provide strict oversight of this spending.

The Senate added a number of additional what we call anomalies or exceptions beyond what was included in the initial House draft. I don't think all of the Senate additions are absolutely necessary, but there's no reason to oppose them, not strong enough in this to oppose this legislation.

However, the Senate did not add some important matters, and I want to reiterate briefly what they are. The Senate did not add additional funds for ObamaCare. The Senate did not add additional funding for the flawed Dodd-Frank law. The Senate did not remove important Second Amendment protections, and they did not dismantle important oversight and funding conditions that help ensure the wise and appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Speaker, all said, this bill is the product of thoughtful, bipartisan conciliation and hard work. We stayed in close touch with Senators MIKULSKI and SHELBY as they managed the bill in the Senate. As a result, the Senate added no poison pills to the bill that passed the House last week.

Even if a continuing resolution is not the most preferable way to fund the government, I believe this bill is the best we can do under these tricky circumstances, and I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and on the other side of the Capitol for working closely with us and the committee over the past few weeks.

We still face a long haul for the rest of the year. It may seem far down the line, but the beginning of fiscal 2014 is only 6 months away, not to mention the other fiscal challenges that we face.

Passing this continuing resolution today lays the groundwork for a path forward. It takes a looming fiscal deadline off the table to allow us to finish the rest of our work and ensures our government keeps its doors open through all of that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, all the Members of this body know that the real work of the body is done by staff. In the case of the Appropriations Committee, I can say that 10,000 times. The staff that worked this bill and worked on the committee business, both on the majority and minority side, put in long hours on weekends and all-night sessions and the like.

They are the people who don't get enough praise. This bill, of course, is no different. The staff has worked across the aisle and across the Capitol to make this bill what it is today.

And I want to especially thank the chief clerk. The head of the staff, Bill Inglee, who sits beside me here, has run the committee staff since we've had the chance to chair the committee. I can't say enough good work about him and all of the staff, both sides of the aisle, who have labored so hard with a great heart to make these bills possible. So I want to thank Bill Inglee, especially, for the great work that he has given to the Nation through his work in clerking for the Appropriations Committee.

I ask my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, to do the right thing by the American people and support this legislation and take a shutdown of the government off the table.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time, and I will be brief. But I wanted to point out to the body the rarity of what we're doing here today.

This bill funds the government for the balance of the year. The House and Senate picked up earlier approved appropriations bills--some of the 12 of the bills--and incorporated them into this CR. So it's sort of a hybrid bill. A part of it funds the agencies without any particular change from 2012. Then, in these five bills that earlier had passed the House and the Senate committee, now incorporated in this bill, it funds those agencies with full-year funding, with full-year instructions.

The rarity of coming together as we are a week or so before the ending of the CR to pass a new CR, by agreement with the Senate, with the myriad of details involved in these bills--tens of thousands of decisions, actually, that were made a part of this bill--it is remarkable that we're at this point where I think the bill will be approved with a great majority as it was in the Senate--the Senate vote was 73-26, and I think the vote here will be similar. But that's remarkable. It's due to good staff work, number one--dedicated work. It's due to Members of both bodies who were able to listen to their colleagues, understand everyone's needs involved in this process, and for the most part we found conciliation and ability to come together around these common provisions that are good for the country.

This will allow our military a lot more flexibility in how they spend the money we give to them--all the while it's a meager amount compared to what they need. Nevertheless, they're given flexibility, and with the other agencies like Veterans and Homeland Security, with Border Patrol, with veterans' pension cases and trying to help relieve that workload, and all of the agriculture needs of the country included in this bill, as well as the Commerce, Justice, Science part. So we are properly funding things like the FBI and the DEA, the law enforcement agencies, the Commerce and Trade Divisions, as well as all of the others included in the bill.

So, Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. I'm proud of it. I'm proud of the fact that we were able to do all of this, frankly, as smoothly as it has gone. That's a tribute to the work of people like Nita Lowey, the new ranking member on the full committee, and the work of Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate side, and, of course, the new chairman of the committee over there, Senator Barbara Mikulski.

All of us worked together, and we were determined to produce a product that would be good for the Nation, number one; but, as it turns out, I think it's good for this body and the Senate. We have proved that when we set our mind to it, we can get complicated, hard things done. And that's what this bill does.

Mr. Speaker, I urge an ``aye'' vote on H.R. 933, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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