"I want to welcome Vice Chairman Cochran and all Committee members to the first meeting for our review of Appropriations for fiscal year 2013. Each of our subcommittees has been very hard at work reviewing the agency requests and preparing recommendations. I especially want to thank our subcommittee Chairmen and ranking members for their diligent and expeditious review. The subcommittees have held 35 hearings so far with many more scheduled over the coming weeks.
"We meet today to begin our Committee's work for the year. On March 20, as required under the Budget Control Act, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee filed a discretionary spending allocation for the Appropriations Committee under section 302(a) of the Budget Act. It is now our task to allocate this funding to our subcommittees and begin mark ups.
"As mandated by the Budget Control Act, the proposed discretionary allocation for the Committee includes $1.047 trillion in budget authority as well as $1.222 trillion in outlays for this fiscal year. I would like all members to understand the significant adjustments that have already been made by this Committee in reaching this level.
"On the table in front of you there is a chart which shows recent spending levels of the Committee. In fiscal year 2010, the Committee appropriated $1.089 trillion in base discretionary funds. This year we will allocate $1.047 trillion - a reduction of $42 billion. Moreover, in total discretionary resources including the costs of war, disasters, and other emergencies, as the chart indicates, the Committee will come down from nearly $1.266 trillion in fiscal year 2010 to a current estimate of $1.15 trillion - a reduction of almost $116 billion in three years. This is equivalent to a reduction of 9.1 percent.
"During this same period, the cost of living in this country has increased by 6.4 percent. Now, some of our colleagues contend that we shouldn't consider inflationary pressures when determining resource requirements for government spending. But just like the average American family experiences rising utility costs, increases in college tuition, and increases in medical expenses due to inflation, so do our Federal agencies. If the cost of living is rising by 6.4 percent, so is the cost of doing business for the government.
"By adopting the proposed Committee allocations for this year, in real terms, we will have committed to reducing discretionary funding by 15.5 percent compared to what we appropriated in fiscal year 2010. We are all painfully aware of the need to address our Nation's fiscal woes as the economy rebounds, but as my colleagues know, the budget is comprised of three portions - discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and taxes.
"So, while mandatory spending continues to increase and revenues remain untouched, this Committee is the only actor in the budget process that has taken steps to get our financial house in order. Today we will continue to do our part, as these numbers so clearly indicate.
"In dividing up the resources that the Committee has for this year, Vice Chairman Cochran and I have come up with a proposal which we believe is fair, and meets the standard always adhered to by this Committee as guaranteed under the Constitution. It provides for the common defense and also promotes the general welfare of this great nation.
"If our colleagues agree and support the allocation as set forth on the table, we will then be able to proceed to consider the recommendations of the subcommittees on Commerce, Justice and Science, and Transportation-HUD which met on Tuesday of this week to consider the respective subcommittee leadership's recommendations.
"I want to thank Senators Mikulski, Hutchison, Murray, and Collins for their fine work in crafting these two bills. It is a tribute to them and their staffs that they have forged bipartisan recommendations at levels below amounts funded in fiscal year 2012. At this juncture I would like to call upon the Vice Chairman, Senator Cochran for his remarks and to make the requisite motion to approve the allocations."