Washington, DC - Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) delivered the following opening statement at today's joint House-Senate Conference on H.R. 2055, the Fiscal Year 2012 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
"I would like to thank Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Dicks, and Vice Chairman Cochran for working cooperatively on the remaining nine appropriations measures. Without a doubt, finding common ground in the current partisan environment can be challenging, but we have managed to make steady progress on each bill. Our negotiations continue, and work remains to be done. But I am confident that we are on a path that will enable us to bring a final measure to our respective Chambers before we adjourn for the holidays.
"While a number of individual issues remain to be resolved, I can assure everyone that the end result will be one that lives up to the Budget Control Act. Our discretionary budget authority will not exceed $1.043 trillion, and necessary disaster relief funding will not exceed the allowable amount.
"The Conference Report we expect to present early next week is in the paramount interest of our nation. The taxpayers expect the Congress to spend their money wisely, and the Congress has no responsibility move vital than to exercise the power of the purse. Our ability to reach a final, comprehensive agreement on the remaining nine measures will show our constituents that the Congress is able to fulfill one of its most basic responsibilities. And it will show that reasonable people are able to reach reasonable agreements.
"With the exception of the Department of Defense, the government has been running on a Continuing Resolution for the past year. No one believes this is a good way to spend dollars wisely. We cannot allow the government to remain on autopilot for another fiscal year.
"However, if we are to enact our remaining bills, we must come to an agreement that is acceptable to a majority of both the House and the Senate, and the President. I have no doubt that the final Conference Report will contain provisions that the House majority would not have included if they had the ability to write the legislation without the need for compromise with the Senate. Similarly, provisions will be included that are not popular with the Senate majority. But that is the nature of compromise.
"No one should expect 100 percent of what they might wish for, but everyone should expect a final bill that is fiscally responsible and that will enable our agencies and departments to better perform their essential tasks. If we meet those two goals, and I believe we will, this measure will attract strong, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
"In conclusion, I again thank Chairman Rogers for continuing to push every day to make this Conference possible. He has worked tirelessly to return the appropriations process to regular order. And while we are not there yet, we are in a much better place than a year ago."