Senator Collins Urges Colleagues to Support FY24 Six-Bill Appropriations Package, Avert Shutdown


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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, delivered remarks on the U.S. Senate floor today to urge her colleagues to support the second six-bill Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations package.  Senator Collins helped lead negotiations on the legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 286-134 vote earlier today.


A transcript of Senator Collins’ remarks are as follows:


“Madam President, I rise today in support of the final six government funding bills before us.  These bipartisan, bicameral bills are the results of many months of hard work by the Appropriations Committees in both the Senate and the House.


“Let me start by thanking Chair Murray for her tremendous leadership and hard work throughout the entire appropriations process.  She has really made a difference.


“Since Chair Murray and I took the helm of the Committee over a year ago, we have been committed to an appropriations process that provided Senators with a voice in funding decisions through robust Committee proceedings.  Toward that end, we held more than 50 public hearings and briefings.  We televised our Committee mark-ups for the first time ever.  And the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and advanced all 12 bills, individually, for the first time in five years, and we did so with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Every single bill, each and every one of them, was subject to robust debate and amendments.  Many of them passed unanimously I am pleased to say.  Others with only one dissenting vote.


“This final package on the Senate floor today includes the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills for: the Department of Defense; State and Foreign Operations; Financial Services and General Government; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; the Legislative Branch; and Homeland Security.


“Madam President, we are not punting through yet another continuing resolution, nor is this an omnibus.  Rather, it is a package of six individual bills that fund critical programs, important agencies, and essential departments through the end of this fiscal year. 


“Now, Madam President, I would have preferred that more of these bills had been brought across the Senate floor.  But no one can say that they were not available for scrutiny since we reported the last of them from Committee, way back in July.


“I want to, in addition to my thanks for Chair Murray, to thank the ranking Republican members on each of the subcommittees reflected in the package today – Senators Graham, Hagerty, Capito, Fischer, and Britt – for their outstanding efforts in assembling this package.  And I also want to acknowledge the contributions of their Democratic chairs.


“Madam President, this legislation is truly a national security bill—seventy percent of the funding in this package is for our national defense, including investments that strengthen our military readiness and industrial base, provide pay and benefit increases for our brave servicemembers, and support our closest allies. 


“This legislation also supports America’s working families, while providing funding to better secure our borders and combat the transnational criminal organizations that are flooding our communities with fentanyl.  As part of the effort to address the crisis at the border—and it is a crisis—this package includes funding for additional detention beds and more Border Patrol agents and Port of Entry officers.  Those are longstanding Republican priorities.  Priorities that are shared by many Democrats as well.


“As the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I want to take a few moments to highlight the bill in this package on which Chair Tester and I worked extremely closely.  The bill avoids a devastating year-long CR that every single service chief told us would be a disaster for the Department of Defense.  It meets the complex threats that are facing our country.


“Madam President, to say things have changed since the Fiscal Year 2024 budget request was first presented last spring would be a drastic understatement.  Putin refuses to end his war in Ukraine.  Hamas conducted its heinous, brutal attack on Israel on October 7.  Iran continues to fan the flame of violence and terrorism throughout the Middle East, including against American forces, and China’s military budget and armed forces continue to grow unabated.


“But you don’t have to take my word for it.  In the past few weeks, the Commander of U.S. Central Command, General Erik Kurilla, has described this as the most dangerous security environment in fifty years.  


“On the other side of the world, the Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command told Chairman Tester and me earlier this week that this is the most dangerous time that he has seen in his forty-year career, citing cooperation between Russia and China as a key and growing concern.


“In addition, just last week, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Naval Operations wrote to the majority and minority leaders, describing the harm to the readiness of our Navy and Marine Corps unless we quickly pass a full-year Defense appropriations bill.  This needs to be done before a large part, about two-thirds of our government, would otherwise shut down at midnight tonight.  We must not let that occur.


“To meet these challenges, our bill includes nearly $824.5 billion for the United States military.  It fully funds the 5.2 percent pay raise for servicemembers—the largest pay raise in more than 20 years—and it includes a critical $123 million increase for bonuses for our new recruits and junior enlisted soldiers.  The bill also doubles the number of children who will have access to full-day pre-Kindergarten in DOD schools—an important priority for Senator Murray and for me.


“I also want to salute the work that Representative Ken Calvert did in this whole area, of improving benefits and pay for our junior enlisted soldiers.  


“Madam President, as the Chinese navy rapidly expands to more than 400 ships over the next two years, our legislation includes $33.7 billion for Navy shipbuilding and down payments for both an additional DDG-51 destroyer and an amphibious ship—the largest shipbuilding budget ever provided.  Indeed, our legislation supports a Navy fleet that is six ships larger than the President’s woefully inadequate request.


“The Defense bill also includes more than $2.2 billion for our uniformed military leaders’ highest priorities that were not included in the Administration’s request.


“But as you know, Madam President, we get a list of unfunded priorities from our service chiefs.


“Our bill includes $273 million for long-range radars and sensors to close the awareness gaps identified by General VanHerck when he was commander of Northern Command.  It includes $50 million for the INDOPACOM Commander to accelerate his top priority targeting capability, and $200 million to accelerate the development of the E-7 radar aircraft that was a top priority for the Air Force.


“To strengthen deterrence against China, our legislation keeps the modernization of the nuclear triad on track.  It funds the transition from “just-in-time” to a “just-in-case” stockpile of munitions by authorizing and funding—for the first time ever—six multi-year procurement contracts for missiles and munitions.


“Surely that has been one of the lessons that we have learned from Ukraine, how important it is that we have modernized and adequate stockpiles.


“$6.5 billion is also included to maximize this year’s production of Patriot air defense missiles, long-range anti-ship missiles, and six other long-range precision strike missile programs. 


“Finally, in the area of defense, this bill also includes $500 million for Iron Dome and David’s Sling and Arrow, the cooperative missile defense programs that are consistent with the ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the United States and our close ally, Israel.  This will provide much-needed assistance to Israel in its fight against terrorism.


“Madam President, in addition to having a strong national defense, another priority of mine is biomedical research, and this bill will continue the progress that we are making in increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health.  It increases funding for NIH by $300 million, including $120 million in an increase for the National Cancer Institute, and $100 million more for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia research.


“I would note that it also increases funding for mental health, which is so important—an area that has been neglected somewhat in the past. 


“Another cause of mine, as the co-chair with Senator Jeanne Shaheen of the Diabetes Caucus, has been to increase the funding for diabetes research.  And we have done so in this bill.


“We also pay attention to the problems with opioids and have included an increase in the funding for the Help to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, known as the HEAL Initiative.  Palliative care research also receives an increase—that is so important as our population ages, and that is an area, long-term care, that we still need to do an awful lot of work on in this country.  I hope that this will start us on our path to that end.


“Again, Madam President, there has been so much work done on this package of bills, and I want to thank my Republican and Democratic colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, the leaders in the House as well on the Appropriations subcommittees and full committee.  And I also want to thank our Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle, and our House leaders, for their extensive work on these bills.


“Members throughout the Senate have contributed to prioritizing funding and identifying how funding should be prioritized.  And I want to note for my Republican colleagues that the legacy riders that we have traditionally included, such as the Hyde Amendment, are included in this bill.


“Finally, I want to thank our extraordinary staff.  They have worked nonstop throughout this past year, but particularly this past month, without getting sleep, without seeing their families, just working night and day.


“I urge my colleagues to join me in voting for this final FY 2024 appropriations package, and complete our fundamental job of funding our government.


“Thank you, Madam President.”