U.S. SENATOR THAD COCHRAN (R-Miss.)
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Full Committee Statement on FY2013 302(b) Allocations
Mr. Chairman, thank you for laying before the committee a proposal for the orderly consideration of the appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2013.
The first order of business is consideration of the Section 302(b) allocations, which will provide the 12 subcommittees with the framework necessary to draft the bills the Committee will consider over the coming weeks.
While the Congressional budget process puts subcommittee allocations under the purview of this Committee, it does not contemplate our determining the total amount of discretionary spending in any given year. That determination is left to be made in the annual budget resolution. But the Senate has not approved a budget resolution, so we have to acknowledge the fact that we do not have such a resolution before the Committee now for guidance. As a matter of fact, we haven't approved one in the Senate in several years.
There are things that a budget resolution could do to put us on a sustainable fiscal path that last year's Budget Control Act did not achieve. The Budget Control Act did, however, provide 10 years of discretionary spending caps--in law--for a budgetary savings of nearly $1 trillion. Those caps are the only significant and concrete piece of deficit reduction included under the Budget Control Act, or for that matter in any recent law.
Some in the Senate regard the discretionary savings included in the Budget Control Act as insufficient. Some believe the caps will unreasonably restrain the delivery of government services. But if I were to ask the 30 members of the Committee to identify the appropriate level of discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2013, we might, and likely would, get 30 different answers.
Given these circumstances, it is appropriate in my view for the Committee to proceed on the basis of the discretionary caps enacted into law less than nine months ago. Not all members of the Committee supported the Budget Control Act. Seventy-four Senators did support it, however, including a majority of the members of both parties in the Senate and a majority of members on both sides of the Committee.
I commend the other body for developing a comprehensive budget resolution that makes a serious effort to tackle our debt problem, and which involves other Congressional committees in that process, as well. I wish the Senate would do the same. But absent any indication that will happen, it is certainly reasonable for us to proceed consistent with the law.
As we move bills through Committee and onto the floor, Senators will have every opportunity to propose changes to reduce or reallocate spending. Our situation demands that we consider these proposals carefully, and ultimately reconcile the Senate bills with the bills from the other body that are being written to different appropriation and allocation levels. Those negotiations will determine the actual 2013 discretionary spending levels for each bill.
The distinguished Chairman has consulted with us and with various subcommittees regarding the allocations. We appreciate everybody?s input in the process. The Chairman has proposed a set of recommendations that are consistent with the Budget Control Act. We have taken steps to ensure that the resources available to the Department of Defense, for example, will not be cut below the President's budget request, even though the Budget Control Act suggests that we do so. It is a reasonable set of allocations, in my opinion, under the law and I intend to support them.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank our distinguished Senators as you already have--Senators Mikulski, Hutchison, Murray and Collins--for their efforts in drafting the two bills that we will consider today. They and their staffs have worked hard under difficult constraints to produce this work, and we should commend them for that.
I will be prepared to make a motion at the Chairman's pleasure to approve the subcommittee allocations.