Chair Murray Opening Remarks at Full Committee Markup of Energy and Water Development, State-Foreign Operations, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bills


ICYMI: Summary of the Energy and Water Development Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill READ HERE


ICYMI: Summary of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill READ HERE


ICYMI: Summary of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill READ HERE


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, gaveled in today’s Senate Appropriations Committee markup and delivered the following remarks as the Committee meets to consider: the Energy and Water Development Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill; the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill; and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill.


Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:


“We are making real progress as we return the Committee to regular order and show the American people their government can work in a responsible, bipartisan way to make their lives better.


“Today, our Committee will continue passing serious Appropriations bills that can actually be signed into law and making sure the voice of the Senate—and the voice of our constituents—is heard loud and clear in this process.


“I know we are all working under some tough topline numbers, which we’ve discussed at length.


“And with all of that in mind, I appreciate the effort everyone on this Committee is putting in to make sure we write the strongest bills possible, make full use of the resources in the debt ceiling agreement, and use the tools we have to protect critical investments.


“Members on both sides of the aisle—on and off committee—have voiced serious, bipartisan concerns about the cuts in the debt ceiling deal to vital non-defense programs and the caps it imposes on defense spending.


“Vice Chair Collins and I have discussed how best to address these concerns, and we have agreed to make use of additional emergency appropriations—just as we do every year, and is fully allowed under the debt ceiling deal—to address in a bipartisan way some of the pressing challenges our nation faces.


“In order to take these concerns regarding our defense and nondefense needs seriously, and to ensure we deliver the strongest bills possible with the broadest bipartisan support possible—Vice Chair Collins and I agreed to add $13.7 billion in additional emergency appropriations, including $8 billion for defense, and $5.7 billion for non-defense spread across 4 subcommittees—including the State-Foreign Ops bill we are considering today.


“This additional funding is important for us to be able to continue to work together on a bipartisan basis to address the urgent challenges our country faces.


“And because—as the bills we are discussing today show—we aren’t just talking about numbers on a page.


“We are talking about our country’s competitiveness and leadership on the world stage, the safety and wellbeing of our families and communities, and the future for our children.


“The Energy and Water bill we are marking up today deals with everything from absolute essentials like getting communities and farmers water to managing serious threats like the climate crisis and nuclear arms.


“The investments in this bill help keep our country competitive by investing in our nation’s ports, harbors, and waterways. And help secure our energy grid, so we can reduce our dependence on foreign countries, lower energy prices, and lead the world in clean energy technology.


“The bill includes funding to manage water resources essential for irrigating crops, transporting goods, supporting keystone species like salmon, and keeping the lights on in cities and towns that rely on hydroelectric power.


“It advances our efforts to respond to the climate crisis—which threatens our families, our economy, and our national security—with funding to mitigate droughts, and strengthen levees, seawalls, and more.


“I’m glad this bill also provides new resources to support our nuclear nonproliferation efforts and environmental clean-up programs—which is absolutely vital for the Hanford site in Washington state.


“And this bill makes crucial investments in our national labs, keeping our nation on the cutting edge of research and development, including at Pacific Northwest National Lab in my home state of Washington.


“Today, we are also voting on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill which makes critical investments to keep our country safe, support our allies, and bolster our global leadership.


“As everyone here knows, our nation’s strength isn’t just measured by our military—it is also measured by our diplomacy, the strength of the coalitions we lead, our competitiveness, and the value our contributions make to international security and prosperity.


“Our adversaries and competitors are eager to fill any void we leave. Which is why the investments in this bill are so important.


“This bill includes funding to strengthen U.S. competitiveness and economic diplomacy, promote democratic values, advance food security, health security, and provide much-needed humanitarian aid, enhance sustainable development, stand by our partners and allies, and strengthen the diplomatic and development workforce.


“It also includes investments to help us work with global partners to stop the flow of deadly fentanyl into our country.


“Crucially, this bill increases our investments in the Indo-Pacific, strengthens U.S. diplomatic engagement in places where the Chinese government is gaining influence, and provides new funding to invest in strategic infrastructure and secure critical supply chains to strengthen economic growth for the U.S. and our partners.


“In short, this bill ensures we maintain a really strong agenda abroad, at a really critical moment.


“And finally, today we will also be voting on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies bill.


“The investments in this bill are critical to make sure people aren’t left on the streets or out in the cold and to get people and goods where they need to go in a safe, timely way.


“Washington state, like so many others, has been grappling with our nation’s housing and homelessness crisis for years.


“So I’m glad we are able to maintain and build on some key investments in this bill that provide rental assistance to families in need, increase our housing supply, support maintenance for distressed properties, and connect people with health care, financial education, employment programs, and other support services.


“Good steps to be sure, but I want to make it clear that the housing and homelessness crisis in this country will take a lot more than the flat funding in most areas and the modest funding increases in some programs we’ve managed to negotiate under the tough caps in the debt ceiling deal.


“I hope we can come together in a bipartisan way to talk about the kind of investments and policies we will need to really tackle these challenges in a serious way.


“Now, when it comes to our nation’s transportation infrastructure—the investments in this bill are especially important in light of some of the derailments, disasters, and disturbing close calls we saw this year.


“I’m pleased we were able to increase funding for the Federal Aviation Administration so it can address the shortage of air traffic controllers, reduce flight delays, increase efficiency, modernize technology, and—critically—improve safety.


“This bill also increases the Federal Railroad Administration’s funding for its safety work to make sure we have enough inspectors keeping our rails safe and that we can research important questions to improve rail safety and efficiency.


“And let’s not forget—on top of the investments in this bill—there are so many great projects chugging along thanks to the investments we made through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well!


“These are strong bills—that show Congress can actually work in a bipartisan way to make tough decisions, and ultimately, critical investments our communities are counting on.


“We have more work ahead—and I am not going to stop pushing to use every tool I can to deliver the strongest bills possible. But these bills represent meaningful progress to deliver much-needed resources.


“I’d like to commend and thank Senators Feinstein, Kennedy, Coons, Graham, Schatz, and Hyde-Smith for their hard work on these three bills.


“And also recognize all of the hardworking subcommittee staff who put so many long hours, and so much careful thought into crafting the strongest bills possible under tough circumstances.


“I think they did an excellent job, and I hope all of my colleagues on the Committee will join me today in showing our appreciation not just with words, but with overwhelming bipartisan votes to move these bills forward.


“Let’s make sure the Senate has its voice heard in the appropriations process.


“Let’s show the American people we are taking our job seriously.


“Let’s pass these bills.


“Now, I’ll turn it over to Senator Collins for her remarks.”