Remarks Of Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy On The 150th Anniversary of the Appropriations Committee

Today, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Established on March 6, 1867, its powers are rooted in Article 1, section 9 of our Constitution which states, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”  The founders of our country recognized the power of the purse as one of the most important tools Congress has to ensure our system of checks and balances, and to conduct oversight of the Executive and Judicial Branch.  But it is much more than that.  The Appropriations Committee is also where we translate the priorities of a nation into the realities of the people. 

Our country is not a business, where we allocate resources only according to the bottom line.  We do not invest in order to make a profit, or a one-for-one dollar in return.  We invest in those areas where it is uniquely right for government to take the lead.  We invest in the areas that make a difference in the everyday lives of Americans and that help build the foundations of our country and our economy—infrastructure, national security, our environment, education, health care.  The Appropriations Committee is where we fund nutrition programs to ensure that children do not have to sit through class hungry and remain healthy so they can develop and grow.  It is where we allocate the resources to clean our lakes and our streams and make investments in growing our communities and promoting jobs.  It is where we invest in research to cure cancer.  It’s where we can define who we are as country.

I have been a member of this Committee for almost my entire tenure in the Senate, and just a few short months ago I became Vice Chair.  I am proud to serve on this Committee and I feel honored to join in the ranks of its leaders.  Today, I am glad to join you all in celebrating 150 years of an institution that is at the foundation of the Senate.  I look forward to working with my friend Chairman Cochran in continuing the long and bipartisan history of the Appropriations Committee in the months and years ahead.

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