WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, July 11, 2013 U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee today issued the following statement at a full committee markup of the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations Bills for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and the Legislative Branch:
"Thank you Madam Chair.
"Despite our differences and the significant fiscal challenges we have before us, I applaud your continued leadership in performing the important work of this Committee.
"I will keep my remarks brief because I understand that there will be several amendments offered today, and I'd like to allow time for discussion.
"Madam Chair, the bills we are marking up today will fund several areas of government that deserve our support, such as the National Institutes of Health, math and science education, and the Government Accountability Office.
"But, I have serious concerns regarding certain aspects of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill.
"First, it takes a big step down a spending path that I have previously described as a statutory dead end.
"At $164 billion, the Labor-HHS bill alone would represent 35 percent of the statutory cap of $469 billion for non-defense discretionary spending. It would leave only about $145 billion under the cap to fund the remaining five appropriations bills that are largely non-defense.
"Such a path will only lead to a sequester under current law.
"Second, in general, I am concerned that the Labor-HHS bill spends at a level that is fiscally imprudent. It is about $7.5 billion higher than even last year's pre-sequester level.
"Third, disappointingly, the bill enables further implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
"It increases funding for the health care exchanges by $1.4 billion, which was not provided in the 2013 C.R.
"This increase has been included despite recent failures of key components of the Affordable Care Act.
"As it disclosed last week, the Administration will delay the employer mandate due to the burdens it places on businesses. Although the delay is good news, it does raise questions about the viability of the law.
"The Administration has also announced that it will not be able to verify certain data needed to determine eligibility for individual health insurance subsidies. This could mean that many people will receive subsidies who don?t qualify.
"The Labor-HHS bill should not fund the failures of Obamacare.
"Madam Chair, the debate on these issues will continue after today's markup, and I hope that we can work together to make what I believe are necessary changes.
"I am also still hopeful that this Committee will eventually adhere to the discretionary spending levels required by the law. Thank you."