Statement Of Chairman Leahy On Senate Passage Of The Continuing Resolution

Today, it is imperative that we take up and pass H.R. 6617, the Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act.  This bill will keep the federal government funded and fully operating through March 11 while we work out the details of full-year appropriations bills to meet the needs of the American people.  In a few moments we will vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the continuing resolution.  As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee I strongly urge all members to vote aye.  A government shutdown would be senseless. 

I am pleased to report that last week the four corners of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees reached a framework agreement that will allow us to negotiate an omnibus appropriations bill.  This framework was the result of weeks of careful negotiations between myself, Vice Chairman Shelby, Chair DeLauro, and Ranking Member Granger, and I want to thank them and their staff for all the late nights and weekends that it took to get us to this point. 

Like any compromise, I don’t believe that any of us walked away from these negotiations with everything that we wanted, and there is still much work to do.  But, this framework sets the stage for us to make significant investments in the American people and communities across our country.  It will provide the biggest increase in non-defense programs in four years.  Under this framework, we can direct new resources to improve health care in rural communities, expand the middle class, and protect our national security. 

We look forward to presenting our final agreement to members to review in the coming weeks.  By passing this continuing resolution, we can remove the unnecessary threat of yet another government shutdown and allow the Appropriations Committees to complete our work. 

The alternative – a full-year continuing resolution – is untenable and far too onerous on the American people.  Our government is not meant to run on autopilot, and American taxpayer dollars should not be spent on outdated priorities.  We have the responsibility to make the hard choices about how to invest in the American people. 

A full-year continuing resolution would freeze funding at the National Institutes of Health, causing groundbreaking medical research to stagnate.  It would once again pass on new investments that begin to acknowledge the climate crisis after four years of being on the back burner.  It would fail to increase investments in the education of our Nation’s children, build and renovate affordable housing, or expand the middle class.  It would also substantially reduce infrastructure spending assumed in the bipartisan infrastructure law. 

A full-year continuing resolution would lead to a delays and, worse, even a loss of services to veterans.  Drafting full-year appropriations bills allows us to make smart decisions about how to strategically invest in each of these areas on behalf of the American people.   

In December, the Secretary of Defense warned that a full-year CR would be “unprecedented” and cause “irreparable damage” for a wide range of bipartisan priorities from defense modernization to public health.  Secretary Austin is right. 

A full-year continuing resolution would actually cut defense spending below last year’s levels.  Certain programs would be underfunded and others would be overfunded, and the Department of Defense would lack the transfer authority to correct this imbalance.  As one example, a full-year continuing resolution would provide $3.3 billion to train and arm the now-defunct Afghan security forces.  As another example, the Department of Defense might have to lay off some of the men and women of the armed forces to afford the 2.7 percent pay raise, which they so rightly deserve, that went into effect last month.  In other words, we would be paying to train a military force that does not exist while laying off our own troops and civilian work force in order to pay them – this does not make sense. 

Funding the priorities of yesterday in the world of today would be irresponsible and is no way to govern.

Our four corners framework provides a path to a reaching bipartisan, bicameral, omnibus agreement by March 11.  Vice Chairman Shelby, Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Granger and I are committed to completing this work, and I urge members to support the continuing resolution that passed the House with strong bipartisan support to allow us time to finish our negotiations. 

The continuing resolution must pass in its current form.  The House is out of session.  We do not have time for a long protracted debate.  The government will shut down at midnight tomorrow if we do not send the continuing resolution in its current form to the President for his signature.  I urge all members to oppose any amendments to the bill, and vote Yes on final passage. 


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