U.S. SENATOR THAD COCHRAN (R-Miss.), Vice Chairman
Statement on Joint Conference Committee
(HR.2055, FY2012 Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill)
December 8, 2011
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. It is good to be with our colleagues from the other body. We have enjoyed working with them for a long period of time, as with many of the Senators who serve on this committee. It has been a real pleasure and an honor.
The challenge we all face though is very significant. We have to negotiate thousands of differences that are reflected in these bills in a relatively short period of time. I wish it weren't necessary to write an omnibus bill. I think we should be debating and considering these bills on an individual basis. But we all would prefer that, not just me.
In spite of the fact that we have this challenge, we have consistently, in my opinion, done a good job in producing bills for consideration by the Senate and the House. But we are unable, from time to time, to advance bills beyond that without the cooperation of the leadership of both houses.
This year our efforts have been complicated by the absence of a budget resolution. I can remember when everybody was so excited we were implementing the budget, following the provisions of that, which were to give us all an opportunity to more carefully analyze authorizing and appropriations bills for the purpose of trying to stay within a budget and make a contribution toward fiscal responsibility at the federal level.
But we did include in the Budget Control Act, caps on spending--locking in discretionary spending limitations, holding future growth below the rate of inflation. The Appropriations Committee didn't write the Budget Control Act. Some members of our committee voted against it. Seventy-four members of the Senate did vote for it, including a majority on both sides of the aisle.
Anyway, it is time to implement the Budget Control Act through the enactment of the remaining appropriations bills, and that is what we have facing us. We cannot save any money by operating under a continuing resolution. We need to identify the priorities and fund them in a thoughtful and careful way. I think we are ready to do that. We appreciate the cooperation of our colleagues on the other side.
When we come together and are confronted with this part of our responsibility, I'm confident that we will produce a responsible package that reflects fair compromise on all sides and can be signed by the President.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.