Shelby Statement on FY15 Defense Appropriations Bill Markup

WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, July 17, 2014 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a markup of the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations bill:

Thank you, Madam Chair.

The bill before us is not perfect.  There are individual provisions that I do not support, including what are, in effect, backdoor changes to the tax code, an extension of Recovery Act funding, and a new rule giving preference to European companies over American companies who manufacture textiles in Bangladesh.

It is my hope and expectation that these bad ideas will be eliminated during conference.

That said, the Defense bill adheres to the defense cap set by the Murray-Ryan budget deal, and it takes a number of steps in the right direction. 

It moves $2 billion to Operation and Maintenance accounts to prioritize spending on readiness and the repair of bases and facilities.  It also finds $470 million in savings due to the Department’s overestimate of its own civilian personnel expenses.

This bill also takes steps to ensure an effective space launch competition and jump-starts the development of new engine technology to eliminate our current reliance upon Russian-made rockets.

On balance, this bill does a good job of weighing competing interests in a challenging fiscal environment.

As we consider what may be our last bill, we all know that the biggest fiscal problem facing our nation is not discretionary spending, but mandatory spending.

If left unchecked, entitlement programs and interest payments on our national debt are projected to consume all federal revenue as early as 2031, leaving none for national security or important domestic priorities.

Because this committee only deals with discretionary accounts, we are not in a position to address the entitlements spending crisis.  But I think we are in a position, Madam Chair, to demonstrate how tough choices can be made.

I believe that this bill makes those types of choices and I intend to support it.

Thank you, Madam Chair.