Chairwoman Mikulski's Floor Statement on the Progress of the FY15 Omnibus
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 status of the fiscal year 2015 omnibus.
The following are Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as delivered:
“Mr. President, I come to the floor today during the consideration of the National Defense Authorization to bring my colleagues up to date on the Appropriations Bill. As we know, the Continuing Resolution expires on Thursday at midnight. But I’m here to talk about some good news.
“The Appropriations Committees on both sides of the dome, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee working as a conference committee, have completed their work. This legislation is now, as we speak, heading to the Rules Committee in the House. Hopefully, it will head to the House floor tomorrow and be on the Senate floor tomorrow night and into Friday.
“And this means no government shutdown, no government on autopilot. We fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2015, except the Department of Homeland Security, which will be funded on a continuing resolution.
“Mr. President, what we're talking about here is a monumental achievement. It is a monumental accomplishment, showing how we can work together, we can govern and we can get the job done. Working on a bipartisan basis in the Senate, we worked in our subcommittees, we held our hearings, nearly 60 hearings in 6 weeks, and completed many of our markups.
“We were able to work on our appropriations in the Senate. Over in the House, they did the same thing. But then alas, when we got to September, we had to go on a continuing resolution that lasted until December 11.
“I, as a rule, don't like continuing resolutions. We have 12 subcommittees, and I had hoped under the time that I chaired the committee and held the gavel that we could consider one bill at time and then bring it to the Senate floor. Alas, partisan politics, gridlock, deadlock, gamesmanship and showmanship prevented all that.
“But, you know what? We on the Appropriations Committee, me working with my Vice Chair, Senator Shelby of Alabama, kept ourselves on track. Then we met in the conference committee – first our Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members, then Chairman Rogers, Shelby, Congresswoman Lowey and myself.
“We did work together on a $1 trillion spending bill. That number is breathtaking. But we need to remember over $562 billion is in national defense. The rest is in domestic discretionary. That means everything from veterans to foreign aid to school aid, and also funding innovation.
“I will talk more explicitly about the bill when it comes to the Senate floor. But for today, I wanted everyone to know we’re keeping the process going. We actually made the process work. We showed that we could govern. We worked across the aisle. We worked across the dome. We practiced civility. We argued, we debated, we fought.
“You know, sometimes you give a little, you take a little, but you stand up for them all. And I want you to know that we were able to compromise without what I call ‘capitulation on principle.’ So I wanted to say to my colleagues, stay steady, stay strong.
“We expect that the House will pass its rule sometime after 3:00 p.m. today. That’s the framework that enables them to go to the floor tomorrow. They will follow their own rule and hopefully that bill will pass. If it does pass, it will come to the Senate and we will immediately take it up under the rules that the two leaders will have established. So we look forward to completing the job on the Appropriations Committee within the next 72 hours. I hope this update is of value to my colleagues as they plan their schedule and wish to participate in the debate and the discussion.
“But it’s not whether it’s of value to us. It’s whether it’s a value to the nation. I think what the last election said was we’ve lost confidence in your ability to govern. We hope over the next 72 hours – by the way we will bring this bill to the floor – we will make a significant step to restoring that confidence. And get out of this whole game of government by crisis, government by artificially imposed deadlines that result in more drama than debate. And we would like to get back to this regular order. Hopefully, though, we can now move our bill forward.”
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