Mikulski Floor Statement on GOP Decision to End Year with a Continuing Funding Resolution Instead of Completing Appropriations Work

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to express her disappointment in the Republican decision to stop constructive appropriations negotiations and end the year with a continuing funding resolution (CR).


The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:


“I come to the floor as the Vice Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee.  Our Committee’s duties are spelled out in the Constitution.  Sadly, Congress will fall short of fulfilling those duties.


“Chairman Cochran and I finished our work with the Appropriations Committee reporting all 12 bills, five months ago.  Instead of finishing Congress’s work to fund the government, Republicans are contemplating putting the government on auto-pilot with a continuing funding resolution (CR) for more than half the year.


“I am disappointed.  It didn’t have to be this way.  We worked constructively for a year to do our job writing bills that meet the national security, economic growth and compelling human needs of the American people.  Instead, our Republican colleagues are throwing that work away, saying they will finish in March.


“Where are we with Appropriations? One bill, which funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and Military Construction, has been signed into law. That means the 11 other bills and the funding for every one of their missions is left, including funding our troops fighting overseas, federal law enforcement, national parks, foreign policy efforts and embassy security, education from child care to college, and physical infrastructure like roads, transit, housing and water.


“Instead of making choices about what to fund and what to cut, we leave these missions on auto-pilot, spending the same amount as last year on the same items, with the same policies.  No business operates this way.  No family operates this way.  And it is irresponsible to spend a trillion dollars with no thought and delaying important investments that increase costs to taxpayers.


“Last week, Department of Defense (DoD) Comptroller Mike McCord warned that stopgap CR spending delays ships and weapons our troops need.  For example, without a special provision in the CR to allow it, DoD would have to delay planned replacement of OHIO class submarines, disrupting contract awarding, and ultimately delaying production for the length of the CR.  These subs are the backbone of our nuclear deterrent and new subs are necessary, because the current ships’ nuclear reactors will reach the end of their useful lives in the mid-2020s.


“Delayed procurements aren’t the only way CRs are irresponsible.  Every day, 78 people die in the United States from heroin and opioid overdoses.  The problem impacts every part of the country – both in urban and rural areas, as well as people from every socioeconomic group.  Our Appropriations bills were ready with new investments to attack this problem through law enforcement, prevention, treatment and education.  But in a CR, we won’t get those new investments and more families will suffer.


“A CR won’t help college affordability with full year Pell Grants.  It won’t bolster security with more funds for the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Border Patrol or embassy security.  It won’t increase infrastructure spending for roads, ports, housing, rail, water and sewer systems.  It won’t fund the innovation economy at the National Institutes of Health and DoD to find cures or the Department of Agriculture to make advancements that help farmers and consumers.  It won’t meet the needs for children on the march seeking refuge from conflicts in the Middle East and Central America.


“All year, I have come to the floor to talk about how Appropriations can be used to solve problems.  One of those problems is lead poisoning.  Children exposed to lead in drinking water or paint, suffer permanent cognitive damages.  In Flint, Michigan, 100,000 people have to rely on bottled water or finicky filters because Congress hasn’t provided one penny to help them.


“The Senate has passed funding for Flint as part of the Water Resources Development Act.  I hope that funding will be provided by the end of the year.  We need to get the lead out of Congress, so Flint can get the lead out of its water.  Beyond Flint, our bills also made efforts to help mitigate lead across the country by providing increased funding for safe drinking water grants that help communities replace and rehabilitate their pipes and for efforts that reduce lead paint in public housing, helping more than 13,000 families avoid poisoning their children.


“Every family deserves to be safe in their home and every family deserves a job.  Our Appropriations bills help families get to work by supporting road, bridge and transit projects that make commutes safer and quicker. But those projects also create jobs.  In transit projects alone, our bills would have supported $2.5 billion in capital improvements, supporting 32,000 jobs to build and modernize transit across the country.


“The real needs of Americans aren’t met by government on autopilot.  A long term CR means Indian tribes lose $41 million our bills would have provided to address substance abuse and mental health problems, and more than 1,200 families won’t get the help they need affording rent with tenant based rental assistance.


“If we want to solve problems, create jobs and protect America, Congress should pass full year Appropriations bills – not a CR.  I hope our Republican colleagues will come back to the negotiating table to address national security needs and immediate human needs, such as the children on the march across the world and lead poisoning here in our own country.


“I am ready to finish our Appropriations work.  The Appropriations Committee, on a bipartisan basis, did its work.  It’s time to finish our Constitutional responsibility with full year Appropriations bills.”



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