Mikulski Opening Statement at Full Committee Markup of FY16 CJS, Defense & Legislative Branch Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS), participated in a Full Committee markup to consider the fiscal year 2016 Department of Defense; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.
The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Cochran.  I commend you for putting together an aggressive schedule for the Committee to do its work.
“Today, we have three bills: Defense; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Legislative Branch.  The Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members have done their best to produce responsible bills, but they’re based on the inadequate post-sequester funding levels of the Budget Control Act.
“I appreciate the Chairman’s decision to move the Committee forward.  But I want the Chairman and Members to know: the President will veto bills at the sequester level, and Democrats will vote against motions to proceed to these bills on the floor until we have a sequel to the Murray-Ryan budget deal that ends sequester and treats defense and non-defense programs equally.
“There has been a lot of talk in the Congress this week about OCO (Overseas Contingency Operation), sequester, CHIMPS (changes in mandatory program spending), and the BCA (Budget Control Act).  The average American does not understand these words – they are Washington speak.  But what they do understand is that Congress needs to do its job, because they understand that America is at risk. 
“The Republican budget is not a fair deal, because it has two sets of rules.  The Republican budget says that Congress must abide by the post-sequester spending caps… except for Defense.  For Defense, we can exceed the spending cap by pretending that $36 billion of funding for the basic operations of the military is actually to fund the war. 
“It is not just the Department of Defense that makes this nation safe.  Many security-related programs are funded on the non-defense side of the budget: the Department of Homeland Security provides cybersecurity and border security, the Department of Veterans Affairs helps fulfill our promises to our veterans and educates children in military families through Impact Aid, the State Department provides Embassy Security, and then there is the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which works to root out terrorists attempting cause harm to our country.
“The Republican budget does not contain any relief to meet the needs of the American people for security, jobs, or the future.  We need a budget deal, and we need it soon so we can get the process back on track and invest in compelling national needs.”