Chairwoman Mikulski’s Floor Statement on the 2015 Continuing Funding Resolution

For Immediate Release
Date: September 18, 2014
Contact: Vince Morris (202) 224-1010
Chairwoman says the bill meets four key goals: avoids shutdown and showdown, does no harm to key programs, gives the President fiscal resources to protect the nation, and allows us to pass an omnibus funding bill in December
WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor about the fiscal year (FY) 2015 continuing funding resolution (CR), House Joint Resolution 124 (H.J. Res. 124), which would keep the government open through December 11, 2014.
The following are Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as delivered:
“I rise today to bring to the floor House Joint Resolution 124. It is a continuing funding resolution for fiscal year 2015.
“Madam President, let me explain where we are. We’re in the closing hours before the Senate takes a recess for the fall elections.
“In the middle of all that, on October 1, our fiscal year begins. If we don’t have a bridge between now and December 11, during that time we could face a government shutdown. We do not want a government shutdown. We must provide funding to make sure that the government will not be shut down. And then after the election, we can return and do our due diligence and pass this spending legislation a more comprehensive way.
“Our job as the Appropriations Committee and the Congress is to put money in the federal checkbook each year to keep the federal government functioning.
“The American people want their government to work as hard as they do. They want us to combat the threats against the United States of America. They want us to honor our commitments to our veterans. They want us to meet the compelling human needs of the American people. And they want us to have an opportunity ladder, so that the American people can have a fair shot.
“What we do is provide funding one year at a time. September 30 is our fiscal New Years’ Eve, making October 1 the first day of the fiscal year. And if Congress leaves before we pass the continuing resolution, the government could shut down.
“We don’t want another government shutdown. I believe that Senators on both sides of the aisle do not want another shutdown. We know from last year that it was a terrible situation. Thousands of federal workers were paid not to work. Other personnel like F.B.I. agents had to work for I.O.U.’s, even using their own money to put gas in their cars as they pursued the people who wanted to undermine us.
“So we know we don’t want a shutdown.
“What is our goal for this continuing resolution? To avoid a shutdown, but also to do more than that. To do no harm to existing programs, so that we can meet our compelling human needs, and the national security needs of the United States of America, while continuing those public investments in innovation that make America the exceptional nation and often the indispensable nation.
“It allows us to lay the groundwork for an omnibus funding bill in December which would be a comprehensive funding bill, including all 12 appropriations bills.
“Also, it gives the President the fiscal resources to protect the nation by dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), making sure we support the needs of the Ukraine and NATO, and working on a global basis to stamp out Ebola.
“I want to say to my colleagues who will look at this bill and scrutinize it: the continuing resolution is only from now to December 11. Remember, it is a temporary stop-gap bill. Also, it is set at current levels of funding, so there are no new programs.
“As I said, it meets these needs. I worked very closely with my House counterpart, the distinguished gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. Hal Rogers, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. We worked very hard to write bills that we thought we could bring to the nation.
“Well, it didn’t work out that way, because one party stopped me from bringing bills to the floor. I’m sorry we don’t have an omnibus, but poison pill riders and demands for 60-vote thresholds kept the Senate from considering appropriation bills on the floor. That’s a debate for another day.
“So where are we in this continuing resolution? As I said, it keeps the government running through December 11, operating at the same amount of money as FY 2014 for the same items and the same programs with the same restrictions.
“People might say haven’t things changed since last year?
“There are some technical adjustments that we include, but we are just simply extending what we have. And again, what we do here is help the President with what has changed including the three alarming threats that are facing us.
“First is the growing threat of an organization called ISIL. People say are you talking about ISIS? No, I’m talking about ISIL because it goes beyond Syria – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. What we have in here is the authority for the President to use Title 10 of the United States Code, which allows the President to train and equip – with proper vetting – the moderate Syrian rebel forces.
“Second, we also are supporting our President as he works with NATO to deal with the Russian threat to the Ukraine.
“Finally, there is another grim and ghoulish thing spreading through Africa called Ebola. This bill provides the President with the resources to help Africa fight this problem. At the same time we make sure the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have the resources to fight the issues here.
“I could elaborate on this bill more. I want you to know that the CR is bicameral. It’s already passed the House. It’s bipartisan. I’ve worked with my counterpart in the other party, Senator Shelby, who really has worked in a very rigorous way here, bringing the principles of a fiscal conservative and stability to the bill.
“But I know that there are other Senators who want to debate, and I want them to have the opportunity to debate this bill. I will have more to say when there are not other Senators waiting. So, Madam President, I want to yield the floor.
“But before I do, I’m going to thank Senator Shelby for his cooperation and the cooperation of his staff. We haven’t always agreed on the content or every line item. He is a very staunch fiscal conservative. But out of it all, working with civility, due diligence, and absolute candor, we have been able to bring a bill to the floor.
“I hope my colleagues in the Senate will pass this bill.”