Accounting for inflation, sequester levels provide least funding for critical projects since 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 30, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) delivered opening remarks to the House Committee on Rules last night, calling for a budget compromise that will end harmful sequester cuts that neglect critical projects. Energy and water projects and initiatives support U.S. economic development and manufacturing competitiveness, nuclear security, energy independence, water security, and basic infrastructure that prevents flooding and droughts throughout the country. Her full statement:
Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member Slaughter, and Members of the Rules Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today on behalf of our dedicated Subcommittee.
Before getting to the substance of the bill, let me first address the process by which we arrive before you today. The President has requested a robust increase for this bill in FY 2016, calling on Congress to provide the critical and necessary support to accelerate and sustain economic growth, anchored in energy independence, domestic energy security, a safe and modernized nuclear weapons capability, and water, port, and maritime improvements to serve a growing nation and growing international trade.
Yet Congress finds itself ensnared in a worst-case scenario that never should have happened and absolutely should never be repeated – the spending caps put in place by the Budget Control Act. In FY 2016, the sequester-level caps would put discretionary funding at its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, since 2006.
There may be different views on how to get to a workable budget with twelve accompanying appropriations bills that follow; but the art of compromise must be put to use again to eliminate the spending caps that threaten so many critical Federal programs that underpin the economy and the health of our citizens. Even the Republican Budget Resolution acknowledges the need for relief from sequestration, though it does so by using creative accounting and merely aspirational language.
With only 12 percent of federal spending under our Appropriations Committee’s jurisdiction, we simply cannot alone meet the straight jacket of the sequester daydream. The Ways and Means Committee has a large, unfulfilled responsibility on the revenue side to balance America’s accounts.
While the Murray-Ryan plan was not perfect, another bipartisan budget agreement is essential for FY16 and beyond. Without such an agreement this year, I fear our entire appropriations process is deeply imperiled. Congress must again act to ensure reasonable allocations for the essential programs and investments funded through the appropriations process that modernize America and translate to progress, not retrenchment and backsliding for our Republic.
With that, let me touch on three of the most important areas this bill addresses—energy, water, and nuclear security.
1. Advancing energy technologies is critical to restoring an energy self-reliant America, promoting competitive American manufacturing, and reducing the insidious political and economic damage wrought by energy sector trade deficits.
2. Relieving the $60 billion backlog in uncompleted projects in water infrastructure. We must keep our ports open for business, mitigate floods, and help our country adapt to the challenges of both fresh water scarcity in our drought-stricken West and with rising water insecurity, due to toxic nutrient runoff, in fresh-water rich regions like the Great Lakes
3. Cleaning up our nuclear legacy to minimize the burden passed onto future generations, deterring threats of nuclear proliferation, and responsibly maintaining our own weapons program are all vitally important and strategic responsibilities.
While funding in this bill is an increase over last year, it still falls $633 million short of what the agencies feel they need. For example, seriously underfunded is modernization of a more secure and robust energy grid. As I have already mentioned, the funding shortfalls in this bill are part of an overall budget that is simply inadequate to meet the needs of our country and move America forward.
This bill includes a number of unnecessary and controversial policy riders. That, coupled with funding concerns, may imperil the enactment of this bill. The inclusion of controversial riders is an unnecessary diversion from our primary responsibility ensuring that taxpayer funds are invested wisely to contribute to the economic well being of our Nation.
Finally, Chairman Sessions, I ask that the Committee provide an open rule.
Please allow me to express my deep appreciation for the bipartisan approach the Chairman took in the process of developing this product. While I disagree with several of the funding levels and with the riders that were included, the Chairman is a man of his word and a gentleman always.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.