Chairman Hal Rogers Statement before Rules Committee on Fiscal Year 2015 Continuing Resolution
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers gave the following statement before the Committee on Rules today on H.J.Res. 124, the continuing resolution that will keep the government open and prevent a shutdown after the end of the fiscal year on September 30:
"Good evening, Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member Slaughter, and ladies and gentlemen of the Committee.
"Thank you for having me here before you today to present H.J.Res. 124, a short-term Continuing Resolution to keep the government open and operating after the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
"This critical measure will prevent a government shutdown by funding government programs and services at the current fiscal year 2014 rate of $1.012 trillion through December 11, 2014. This is in line with the Ryan/Murray Budget Agreement that was approved by the Congress last year.
"My Committee sought to draft a bill that is responsible and restrained, is free of controversial riders, and does not seek to change existing federal policies.
"The underlying bill does make a few, very limited adjustments to prevent catastrophic or irreversible damage to government programs, or to address national or global crises that have arisen in recent months.
"These include provisions that: extend the authority for critical DoD activities that provide rewards for helping capture terrorists and that continue current counter-drug programs; increase funding at the Department of Veterans Affairs to help with disability claims processing and investigations into waitlist allegations; boost funding for Ebola research and response; meet border security needs by providing funding flexibility within Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and continue a surge in funding for State Department programs to counter regional aggression toward Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries.
"The bill also extends the authority of the Internet Tax Freedom Act through the duration of the CR and the Export-Import Bank through June 30, 2015.
"All of these provisions are funded within the total level of discretionary funding in the legislation.
"However, this temporary measure does not reflect the overall changing budgetary needs of the nation the same way regular Appropriations legislation does.
"Clearly, it would be my preference to have enacted actual, line-by-line Appropriations bills ahead of our September 30 deadline. The House made great strides toward completing this vital work; in fact, we passed 11 of the 12 bills through Committee and seven through the House before the August work period.
"Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to approve a single bill, and as this deadline closes in, we must make the necessary steps to ensure that the federal government does not shut down and to buy us the time to complete full-year Appropriations legislation.
"That means we must pass this continuing resolution in short order, so that we can send it to the Senate for their swift approval as well.
"It is my hope that in the future, we will no longer need to resort to these lurching, short-term funding bills that punt on the tough budget decisions and heighten uncertainty in our government and our economy.
"But for now, we must pass this bill as soon as possible to avoid causing any additional harm to this nation. This is our best path forward, and I urge my colleagues to support it on the floor.
"I am here before this Committee today to seek an appropriate rule on this bill, providing for its timely consideration and passage. We have just a couple of weeks until the end of the fiscal year – and passage of this legislation is of the utmost importance.
"It is also my understanding that Chairman McKeon will seek an amendment to the bill to address the President’s request for authority to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight against ISIL. This is a critical issue, and I believe it is in our national security interest for Congress to act quickly to provide this authority. Therefore, I support a rule that allows this amendment to be considered by the full House.
"Before I yield back, I’d also like to mention that we’ve asked for an amendment with three small technical changes. One is related to the collection of recreation fees by the Department of Interior and the Forest Service. This change will ensure park passes can continue to be available during the term of the CR. Another change corrects a reference to the FY14 appropriation for the LIHEAP program. And finally, the sections related to funds to address the Ebola outbreak would be modified to resolve some technical issues raised by the Administration.
"Thank you for your consideration. I yield back."