Chairwoman Mikulski Prepared Remarks: FY15 CJS & THUD Full Committee Markup

Contact: Vince Morris w/Appropriations:      (202) 224-1010                                                                                             
Opening Statement of Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski
June 5, 2014 Full Committee Markup
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, today chaired the second full committee markup of fiscal year 2015 and continued to promote a return to regular order. The Committee voted on the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) bill and the fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill. In addition to chairing the full Committee, Senator Mikulski serves as Chairwoman of the CJS Subcommittee.
The following are Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“I am pleased to now present the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill. Senator Shelby and I worked hand in hand to craft this bill.  He is a true partner.
“We used the great ideas of our Committee Members to produce a bipartisan bill consistent with the CJS allocation of $51.2 billion, $398 million less than our 2014 allocation.  The bill allows us to fund priorities that keep America safe, open for business, and driving innovation.
“We can’t have strong, vibrant communities unless they are safe. This bill provides $28 billion for the Justice Department, $260 million more than 2014 levels and $23 million more than the President’s request, so that the Justice Department can carry out its mission to keep America safe from crime and terrorism, protect communities and families, and administer justice fairly.
“Vice Chairman Shelby and I have also included the necessary funding for the Justice Department to investigate the appalling scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our veterans deserve justice, not delays.
“Drug dealers, gang members, child predators, and cyber criminals are hard at work and our Justice Department should be too. The Senate CJS bill sets aside $26 billion for federal law enforcement, including funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as our federal prosecutors and Federal Prison System.
“In this bill we provide key grants to our state and local police departments. These grants fund tried and true activities that will put 1,400 new police officers on the beat, test DNA and forensic evidence in police labs, and provide 80,000 bulletproof vests to officers who need them.
“This bill also funds new ideas that address emerging problems.  For example, the bill directs the Department of Justice to convene a task force to address the heroin crisis not simply in terms of enforcement, but also as a problem that involves education, treatment, and abuse of prescription pain killers. The task force will take a whole of government approach to heroin so Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, along with other partners can be best at what they are best at and best at what they are needed for.  The bill also includes $10 million for new anti-heroin task forces that will battle new threats from an old drug.
“The CJS bill also provides $41 million for a new competitive grant program to test sexual assault kits that are sitting in police evidence rooms and help reform the way communities and law enforcement respond to sexual assault. 
“The bill continues to fund innovative, much-needed programs like improving school safety.  This program is funded at $75 million.
“While funding for law enforcement and the Justice Department helps keep us safe from criminals and cyber attacks, funding for the Department of Commerce keeps America open for business.
“The bill provides $8.6 billion for the Department of Commerce, $375 million more than the 2014 level and $190 million less than the President’s request.
“This will allow the Commerce Department to continue working with companies and industry leaders to bolster business by protecting patents, promoting trade, providing economic development projects in communities across the Nation, and helping coastal economies with sustainable fisheries and healthy oceans.
“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plays a crucial role in keeping people safe by warning Americans to get out of the way when hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather storms threaten us.
“Weather doesn’t just come from an app on your phone, which is why our CJS bill includes more than $3 billion to keep our flagship weather satellites on budget and on track, and our weather forecasting offices fully staffed and ready.
“The bill also provides $25 billion for science agencies.  This is $337 million more than the 2014 level and $439 million more than the President’s request.
“In April, the Full Committee held a hearing on innovation and discussed the importance of continued commitment to research and development that leads to new American ideas, products, and jobs.  In fact, half of the nation’s economic growth can be traced to innovation.
“To further discovery-fueled innovation, the bill provides the full budget request for the National Science Foundation of $7.2 billion.  This will fund more than 11,000 grants for cutting-edge research and education that generates discoveries and inspires new companies.
“We also provide $17.9 billion dollars for NASA, America’s iconic space agency. This bill rejects the deep cuts proposed by the President and funds a balanced space program that includes human space flight, reliable space transportation, aeronautics, and space science that will allow us to understand and protect the planet and explore the sun and solar system.
“As appropriators, we must be shrewd stewards of federal funds and support a frugal government.  That’s why I listen carefully to the recommendations of the Inspectors General (IG) and the Government Accountability Office and provide robust funding for our agency IGs.
“This CJS bill includes early warnings for techno-boondoggles, robust oversight by IGs, audits of grants and contracts, and restrictions on conference spending so we don’t end up paying for any more $5 meatballs.
“But we’ve also started a dialogue with Senator Coburn, who brought several items to our attention, many of which we address in this bill.
“Our bill bans wasteful spending on official portraits, which is an effort our fellow appropriator, Senator Shaheen, is also leading in her bill.  It makes the Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service stop charging high prices for Congressional reports that are available elsewhere for free.
“Also, we ask for accountability for agency advertisement spending and travel funds.  I am committed to reform and to a more frugal government.
“This CJS bill is a good bill. I listened to my Committee colleagues with good ideas on a range of issues, from how to improve fishery management and manufacturing, to making the patent office more effective to fighting gangs and drug epidemics.
“With respect to the second matter we will consider today, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill, I want to commend Senators Murray and Collins for writing a bill that generates jobs, particularly in the area of infrastructure both nationwide and in my home state of Maryland.
“There is a substantial focus on public safety in the transportation portion of the bill.  The HUD part of the bill demonstrates a capacity to meet compelling human needs.
“This bill funds investments that develop and strengthen our communities through proven initiatives including Community Development Block Grants.  It also provides essential assistance to the poorest of the poor by supporting homeless shelters and lead paint abatement.
“This bill will help us build and maintain our transportation infrastructure, including highways, aviation, transit, and rail. Transportation programs funded in this bill support economic development and job creation and make it possible for people to travel safely to work and businesses to move their products to market.
“Reliable, safe and rapid transportation is key to our ability to compete in the global market.  This is a good bill that preserves our commitment to assist the most vulnerable while also providing necessary investments in our infrastructure and communities.
“I look forward to moving both bills out of the Full Committee and to the Senate Floor.”