STATEMENT OF SENATOR THAD COCHRAN
Senate Appropriations Committee Markup
FY2012 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill
June 30, 2011
Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to join you as the Committee begins consideration of the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills. Today's markup is an important step toward our shared goal of enacting 12 individual, responsible appropriations bills in a timely manner.
It is unfortunate that the Senate has not adopted, or even considered, an FY 2012 budget resolution that would provide a spending framework for this Committee. As we witnessed last year, the failure to adopt a budget that addresses our nation's deteriorating financial condition makes it exceedingly difficult for this Committee--and Congress as a whole--to enact appropriations bills in a coherent and transparent fashion.
It is likely that legislation to increase the debt ceiling will carry with it some sort of cap on discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2012. I hope that enactment of the cap will enable the Committee and the Senate to process the appropriations bills quickly, so that we are not faced with another trillion dollar omnibus bill or continuing resolution later this year. Such measures don't afford Senators an adequate opportunity to consider the merits of individual government programs, the needs for funding those programs, or to offer and debate amendments. They often sacrifice the type of oversight that should be the hallmark of this Committee.
In an effort to avoid that outcome, the Chairman and I have discussed with the Majority and Minority Leaders how this Committee can make the most productive use of the summer months, even while debt ceiling negotiations continue. We all agreed that it makes sense to move forward with those bills where there is reasonable consensus on appropriations spending levels, knowing that allocations for individual bills will have to be adjusted once a top-line cap is established.
While I hope the Committee will be able to approve additional bills prior to August, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is a good place to start. The bill funds the infrastructure that supports our men and women in uniform, and tends to the needs of veterans who have served and sacrificed for our country. Senator Tim Johnson and Senator Mark Kirk have done a fine job in assembling this bill, and I look forward to their presentation.
Much has changed since the President submitted his budget in February. Osama bin Laden is dead. This military action highlighted the critical role that Naval Special Warfare Command is playing in the unconventional wars being fought by our Armed Forces. I have discussed with the Subcommittee whether we might increase the amounts provided for training facilities to ensure that these highly skilled warriors remain an elite fighting force. I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve that goal within the constraints of the bill's allocation.
Mr. Chairman, with that, I am prepared to move and I do now move to report the bill.