FY16 Legislative Branch Full Committee Markup Bill Summary

Mara Stark-Alcalá w/Appropriations:             (202) 224-2667                                  
Karen Lightfoot w/Schatz:                             (202) 224-4305
Full Committee Mark: June 11, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee ordered reported fiscal year 2016 Legislative Branch funding legislation that totals $4.309 billion in discretionary budget authority.  Total funding is $9 million more than fiscal year 2015, all of which is dedicated exclusively to required expenses related to the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.  Aside from 2017 Presidential Inauguration funding, the bill is frozen at the fiscal year 2015 level.  Total funding is $220 million less than the fiscal year 2016 request. 
The Subcommittee’s allocation conforms to the post-sequester caps under the Budget Control Act.  Not one Senate Democrat voted for these spartan spending levels because they do not provide adequate resources to protect America, build infrastructure, create opportunity, and spur economic growth.  We need a new budget deal, in the spirit of Murray-Ryan, that stops hollowing out investments in America’s future.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ranking Member of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, said:
“This bill provides critical resources to keep our campus safe and keep important agencies, like Congress’s “watchdog,” the Government Accountability Office, on the job.  However, because of the flat allocation, this bill falls far short of fully funding GAO to restore staffing capacity lost to short-sighted budget cuts.  The bill also relies on cuts to campus maintenance to balance the Legislative Branch budget, which is unsustainable. As the Capitol Police face new security challenges, we need to have full funding to protect the millions of visitors to the campus each year.   It’s time to come together to make reasonable, responsible adjustments to the budget caps so that Legislative Branch agencies, and all federal agencies, can properly focus on their missions.”
Key Points & Highlights
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO).  As Congress’s independent and nonpartisan “watchdog,” GAO audits and evaluates federal agencies and conducts policy analyses to improve government efficiency and effectiveness and root out waste, fraud, and abuse. The bill offers a modest increase of $3 million for GAO, but it falls short of providing much-needed funding to support GAO staffing.  In fiscal year 2013, as a result of the sequester, GAO’s staff capacity reached its lowest point since 1935.  This bill will reverse the critical rebuilding efforts accomplished in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
  • U.S. Capitol Police.  The Capitol Police provides security and law enforcement for the Capitol complex and dignitary protection for Congressional leadership, ensuring the safety of staff and visitors as well as the unobstructed continuity of the legislative process.  The bill provides $366.5 million for the Capitol Police, which is $18.5 million above the fiscal year 2015 level.  This level supports the mission-critical components of the Capitol Police budget to maintain current staffing levels and training.  However, this funding is $12.4 million below the request level.  Without the requested funds, the Capitol Police will not be able to hire and train new recruits to sustain the organization’s full capacity and will therefore require increased future spending on overtime pay.  This funding level also would leave needed and long-deferred information technology and equipment investments unfunded.
  • Architect of the Capitol (AOC).  The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for the maintenance, operation, and preservation of 16.5 million square feet of buildings and more than 450 acres of land throughout the Capitol complex.  The bill provides $579.4 million for the AOC, which is $20.9 million below the fiscal year 2015 level.  The bill prioritizes required maintenance and upgrades related to the basic infrastructure for two million annual visitors and 30,000 daily workers on the Capitol campus.  However, the cut to the fiscal year 2015 level leaves several safety and maintenance projects without funding.  There is an estimated $1.4 billion backlog in projects across the Capitol complex.

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