Capito Leads FY17 Budget Review Hearing for Library of Congress, Architect of the Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, today chaired a subcommittee hearing to review the FY2017 budget request for the Library of Congress and the Architect of the Capitol.

The following is Capito’s statement as prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon.  The subcommittee will come to order.  I would like to welcome everyone to the third and final fiscal year 2017 budget hearing for the Legislative Branch appropriations subcommittee.

Today we will have two panels of witnesses.  The first panel will include Mr. David Mao, the Acting Librarian of Congress.  At the completion of Mr. Mao’s testimony and the subsequent question and answer session with the Library, we will turn to the Architect of the Capitol, The Honorable Stephen T. Ayers, for our second panel.

Panel I, Library of Congress

I would like to start by welcoming Mr. Mao, who has been serving as the Acting Librarian of Congress since Dr. Billington’s retirement at the end of September 2015, AND as the Deputy Librarian of Congress since January 12, 2015.  Mr. Mao has only been with the Library for 11 years, so he is a relative newcomer; however, he has proven his dedication and commitment to the Library by working in several positions across the Library, including the Congressional Research Service, the Law Library and now the Librarian’s office.

I understand there are several members of the senior leadership team here today and want to extend the committee’s appreciation to all of you for the tremendous work that you do supporting the Congress, keeping the nation informed, and maintaining the history of our country as well as many other countries around the world.

Thank you all for being here with us today for this important discussion on how the Library is planning to move forward in the coming fiscal year.  I note that the Library’s total fiscal year 2017 budget request is $667.2 million, a $67.3 million, or 11.2 percent, increase above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.  Included within the requested increase is funding to support an additional 99 full-time-equivalents.  Given the continued budget constraints within which we must operate, it will be important to hear from you about the most critical priorities for the Library, because we may not be able to fully fund all of the requested increases.

And now, I’d like to turn to my Ranking Member, Senator Schatz, for any opening remarks he may like to make.

Panel II, Architect of the Capitol

I would like to welcome The Honorable Stephen T. Ayers, Architect of the Capitol, and the members of his senior leadership staff:  Christine Merdon, the Chief Operating Officer; Tom Carroll, the Chief Financial Officer; and Mamie Bittner, Director of Communications and Congressional Relations.  I understand that several of the Superintendents responsible for the daily operations and maintenance of the many buildings within the jurisdiction of the Architect of the Capitol are also here today, along with many other AOC employees, and we thank them each for their dedication and many years of public service.
The total FY 2017 budget request for the Architect of the Capitol is $694.3 million, an increase of $81.4 million, or 13.3 percent, above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.  I realize that with a deferred maintenance backlog of approximately $1.5 billion, you had to make some tough decisions when building this budget request; however, it still represents an increase of 13.3 percent above the current funding level.

Included within the requested increase is funding to support an additional 71 full-time-equivalents.  The request for additional personnel is a theme across most of the Legislative Branch agencies this year.  I will ask you, as I have asked the other agencies, how we can afford to continue increasing the size of the agency when we don’t have enough funding available to cover the increasing costs of the current workforce, whose salaries and benefits go up every year, and to tackle all of the necessary projects described in your budget request.

As the subcommittee has discussed with each of the witnesses appearing here this year, it is highly probable that we will be faced with a flat budget for fiscal year 2017, so we have some very tough decisions ahead of us.

We realize the level of difficulty, and therefore expense, in managing the maintenance of our aging infrastructure while preserving its historic value.  We certainly don’t want these historic buildings to crumble down around us; however, we may have to further delay some of the proposed work due to budget constraints.  I would like to hear from you regarding the impact of delaying some of this work year after year in terms of increased deterioration and future cost to repair.

And now, I’d like to turn to my Ranking Member, Senator Schatz, for any opening remarks he may like to make.