Chair Murray Remarks at Full Committee Markup of Defense, Interior-Environment, LHHS, and Homeland Security Bills
ICYMI: Summary of the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Appropriations Bill – READ HERE
ICYMI: Summary of the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill – READ HERE
ICYMI: Summary of the Fiscal Year 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill – READ HERE
ICYMI: Summary of the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security 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 met to consider: the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; and Homeland Security appropriations bills.
Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as delivered, are below:
“The Committee will come to order. Today, the Committee will consider the fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills recommended by the subcommittees on: Defense; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; and Homeland Security.
“I am going to start us off with some opening remarks on the four bills we have before us today, and then the Vice Chair will give her opening remarks. Senator Collins will make the usual and customary motion to vote on final passage of the bills, and I intend to have those four votes promptly at 10:45.I ask everyone be here at 10:45 so we can have full attendance for those votes, then members can get where they need to be. Following the four votes, we will move to the consideration of amendments to the four bills.
“The bills before us today are the product of hard work from our Chairs and Ranking Members to make tough choices, under tough circumstances to address pressing challenges we face.
“They may not be what any one of us would have written on our own, but they are solid bills that provide necessary resources to keep our families safe and healthy, our military the best in the world, our economy strong, our communities growing and thriving, and to keep us moving forward—not back.
“As with the other eight bills we have already passed in overwhelming votes, these are serious, bipartisan bills, that can actually be signed into law, and which actually get our country and communities much-needed resources.
“Of course, we all understand—and have talked a lot—about the challenges the debt limit deal has forced on this process. As I said last week, Vice Chair Collins and I have heard from members on both sides of the aisle, both on and off the Committee, about their serious concerns that cuts to vital non-defense programs and caps on defense spending could hurt our country. And we have been clear throughout this process that we share those concerns.
“Which is why Vice Chair Collins and I have worked together, in a bipartisan way, to make full use of the tools allowed by the debt ceiling deal and regular appropriations process to address these concerns, and ensure we write and pass the strongest bills possible with the broadest bipartisan support possible.
“We reached bipartisan agreement to respond to some of our nation’s pressing challenges with additional emergency appropriations provided to subcommittees, just as we do every year, and—let me say again—as is well within the bounds of the debt limit deal.
“That includes additional emergency funding in three of the bills before us today: $8 billion going to the Defense bill, and the majority of the $5.7 billion in non-defense emergency funding going to Homeland and LHHS.
“Just as Vice Chair Collins and I always look to find common ground to get to good bipartisan outcomes, these final four bills we are considering here today reflect lots of hard work by our subcommittee leadership to find common ground.
“I appreciate the time and effort that went into the bills before us, and I hope my colleagues will join me in not only recognizing this hard work but passing these bills out of Committee with strong support.
“Because, let’s be clear, in passing these bipartisan bills today, we aren’t just sending legislation to the Senate floor.
“We are also sending a message to the American people that we take our responsibility seriously to keep our government funded, address problems in their lives—and the challenges our country faces, and make sure the voice of the Senate—and of our constituents—is heard loud and clear in this process.
“We have made incredible progress on this goal so far with over 40 hearings this spring, the first markups in years, and eight of twelve funding bills through Committee already—in overwhelming bipartisan votes. Now is the time to finish strong—in the same bipartisan spirit that has characterized this Committee’s work this year—by passing our last four bills.
“Let’s run through the tape! Let’s show the country that Congress can work in a responsible, bipartisan way—that we can actually work together to reach agreement, solve problems, and help make people’s lives better.
“And that’s what passing these bills will accomplish.
“First, we will consider our Defense bill which makes critical investments to strengthen our military. We know our competitors are doing everything they can to gain ground. That’s why it’s important this bill provides our military needed funding to make sure we don’t fall behind, and we invest in our defense capabilities in critical regions like the Indo-Pacific—because we know a strong American military can help deter conflict around the world.
“And as I have said so many times—having a strong military means more than just investments in weapons, equipment, or facilities. When it comes to defending our country, our most valuable asset has always been the brave and talented women and men who are willing to put their lives on the line to keep our country safe. Which is why the funding in this bill to support military families things like mental health care for our service members, and child care and early learning for kids and their parents is truly mission-critical.
“I’m grateful to Senator Tester, Vice Chair Collins, and their staffs for all their work to ensure we have a strong, bipartisan Defense bill.
“Next, we will consider the Interior bill, which is absolutely critical to our country’s and our kids’ futures.
“After all—we can’t have thriving communities, without thriving ecosystems, clean water, clean air, and continued action to address the climate crisis and the many threats it presents, which have been on full display this summer with record heat and dangerous wildfire smoke.
“And if we expect other nations to trust us to live up to our global commitments… we have to keep our promises right here at home to our Tribes. That means honoring their sovereignty, and delivering on key federal investments that we have promised—which this bills does by sustaining funding for the Indian Health Service, and providing additional resources to support Tribal families, protect Tribal treaty rights, address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, and more.
“The funding in this bill is also incredibly important when it comes to: protecting our kids from breathing polluted air, drinking contaminated water, or being exposed to chemicals like PFAS; protecting keystone species like salmon, and public lands like our national parks, that are vital to our national identity and rural economies; and protecting our communities from wildfires, droughts, and other climate disasters.
“And on this last issue, it is especially critical that wildland firefighters do not have their pay cut! I know how important their work is to protect our communities and lands from wildfires, and I am laser focused on making sure we take action on this by the end of September.
“There’s no question we have more work ahead, but this bill protects critical investments and keeps us moving in the right direction despite tough toplines. So I’d like to thank Senator Merkley, Senator Murkowski, and their staffs, for hammering out such a solid bill under difficult circumstances.
“Today we will also be voting on the LHHS bill which touches on so many investments I feel represent the very heart and soul of this country: from health care, to education, to supporting workers and retirees, and ensuring everyone can live with dignity and respect.
“And I am glad we were able to sustain strong investments in so many of these issues—like continuing the bipartisan support I’ve worked to build for child care. The child care crisis is seriously holding back parents, businesses—everyone. So I’m glad we increase funding for child care in our bill. This funding alone will not fix this crisis, but it is meaningful progress—and I am going to keep pushing for bolder steps.
“We also have strong funding for the mental health and substance use disorder epidemic that has been so devastating in all of our states. Fentanyl overdose deaths have been skyrocketing in Washington state—and across the country. It’s a tragedy and a crisis—and the funding in this bill is crucial to supporting the people fighting this on the frontlines, and getting people the preventive care and addiction treatment that saves lives.
“And there are so many other crucial investments in this bill for medical research into desperately-needed cures, for youth mental health, for underserved communities which are still recovering from the pandemic, for students to afford a higher education, for workforce training programs, for keeping workers safe and putting dollars back into their pockets—I could go on all day! But I’ll leave it to Senator Baldwin, and Senator Capito to say more about the absolutely vital investments in their bill.
“I’d like to thank both of you, and your staffs, for the hard work that went into making sure this important bill is as strong as possible given the constraints and cuts we are facing.
“And finally, we also have the Homeland Security bill.
“Our economy depends on our ability to ensure countless goods, as well as people, can move through our ports and borders in an orderly, and timely way.
“Our security depends on our ability to do all of this while effectively stopping threats like sex and labor traffickers, drug traffickers, and fentanyl—which, as I just said, is absolutely devastating our communities.
“And, of course, our reputation as the leader of the free world requires us to continue our long tradition of welcoming people from across the globe who are seeking safety from persecution, and opportunities for a better life.
“And this bill includes important investments for all of this vital work.
“I’d like to thank Senator Murphy, Senator Britt, and their staffs, for the hard work that went into putting together this critical bill.
“As everyone on this Committee knows, this process is never easy—and this year is certainly no exception.
“But we have a responsibility to get our jobs done—and I’ve been very impressed by the work all of our subcommittees have done to write the strongest possible bills, with the broadest possible bipartisan consensus.
“None of these are the bills any one of us would have written alone. But they are thoughtful compromises that provide resources our country needs to navigate some of the biggest challenges we face.
“So I hope we keep up the momentum today, as we have in the past few markups, by passing all four of these bills with broad, bipartisan support.
“At the end of our meeting today I will also have more to say about the excellent staff work on both sides of the aisle, but I want to take a moment now to note we would not be here marking up four final appropriations bills, without the just incredible efforts of the dedicated, hard-working staff who helped us get here today.”
Senator Murray’s closing remarks, as delivered, are below:
“I want to take a moment to thank everyone for their participation in this markup today.
“When Senator Collins and I first announced we were going to return this Committee to regular order, there were two things we heard from pretty much everybody.
“The first was: ‘That’s great, we support you, we all want to return to regular order and show the American people Congress can work in a responsible, bipartisan way’
“And the second was, essentially: ‘Good luck! We’ll believe it when I see it.’
“Well I hope everyone was watching today.
“Because this Committee just finished passing all twelve individual appropriations bill, in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes, and we did it before the end of July.
“Everyone who follows this process knows—that is a big deal. This is the first time since 2018 we have marked up all 12 of our bills, and the first time we've done it actually on live video!
“It is not mission accomplished as we all know—we still have to get these bills passed through the full Senate, and the House, and signed into law, and I know that all of us are going to work really hard to get that done.
“But this is a really big deal. And I think what this Committee has achieved is good proof that it is possible to work together, that it is possible to make a real difference and to find common ground and produce serious, bipartisan bills that can be signed into law.
“There is no reason for chaos or gridlock when it comes to making sure our government is funded—and as this Committee has shown in working together this summer.
“So I’d just really want to thank absolutely everyone who has made it possible. Starting with my partner—Vice Chair Collins. I could not have done that without you and I just want to thank you for your amazingly hard 24/7 work to get this done and all the work that you have done.
“I want to thank all of our subcommittee chairs and ranking members and all of your staffs. And, in addition to the subcommittee staff that have been recognized in each of the bills that have been marked up here—I thank all of you. But there are some Committee staff who have worked on all of these bills and have never been recognized.
“So I want to take a moment on behalf of myself and Senator Collins to thank some people who have done a tremendous amount of work, particularly during the last six weeks, to help each of these subcommittees complete their bills […].
"These staff members have worked tirelessly to provide their drafting expertise, produce the bills, ensure the rooms are set up correctly for these markups—including making sure they are televised for the first time in the history of the Appropriations Committee—manage security, and so much more.
“They deserve all of our thanks and gratitude for truly excellent work.
“And I also want to thank [members of] Senator Collins’ team for all the hard work and late nights, and tremendous efforts to get us to today. Thank you for your hard work throughout the process.
“And finally, I would like to thank my Appropriations staff […].
“None of this would have happened without all of these people that we just named. This year could not be where we were today without the work of these individuals. It is a remarkable achievement and thank you on behalf of all of us for the tremendous work that all of you have done.
"With that, this committee stands adjourned.”
Next Article Previous Article