Senate Clears Appropriations Package, Approves Funding for Critical National Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today released the following statement praising the Senate’s passage of H.R. 5895, the minibus appropriations bill, which packages three Fiscal Year 2019 Senate appropriations measures, including Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and the Legislative Branch.


“Following months of strong bipartisan work in the Senate, we have approved a package of three appropriations bills through regular order,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).  “This funding measure is the result of thorough and thoughtful consideration by Senators Alexander, Boozman, and Daines, as well as Senators Feinstein, Schatz, and Murphy.  I applaud them for their leadership in crafting this legislation.  Through an open and fair amendment process, the Senate has displayed its ability to stay the course and move funding bills in a manner that benefits the American people.”


“I am pleased that the Senate has passed this important legislation, marking the first set of funding bills that represent our renewed framework for success.  These responsible, targeted investments will help advance American energy security, support our nation’s water infrastructure, and ensure maximum readiness and warfighting capability for our troops.  The measure also takes steps to increase the safety of those working in and visiting our Capitol complex.  Further, the legislation includes record-level discretionary funding for the VA to provide essential health care and benefits for our servicemembers and veterans,” Chairman Shelby concluded.


The funding measure, which is the first FY2019 appropriations legislation passed by the Senate, was approved by a vote of 86-5.  The package provides a total of $145.64 billion in base discretionary funding, with the majority of this funding supporting our national defense and veterans.


Prior to the vote for passage of H.R. 5895, Chairman Shelby spoke on the Senate floor regarding his support for the legislation.  His remarks, as prepared, are as follows:


“Before we vote, I briefly want to thank my colleagues, provide a status update on the appropriations process, and urge the Senate to stay the course. 


“First, I want to thank Leaders McConnell and Schumer for bringing this package to the floor and facilitating an open amendment process.  


“I also want to thank the bill managers, particularly Senator Alexander, for their work in crafting strong, bipartisan bills and keeping the process on track.


“In addition, I want to express my appreciation to Senator Leahy, the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  Vice Chairman Leahy is a man of his word, and that has been essential to the Committee’s ability to move bills.


“Finally, I want to thank all of my colleagues for their cooperation and input during floor consideration of this package.


“At the outset of this debate, I challenged all senators to follow through on their calls for a return to regular order.  To that end, several amendments received up or down votes on the floor and dozens more from both sides were included in the managers’ package.  We also rejected controversial authorizing provisions for the good of the process.


“And now, as we vote on final passage, I hope my colleagues agree that we are headed in the right direction.


“I recognize that this package must still be reconciled with the House version before we can get it to the President’s desk.  But I am optimistic we can do that in short order.


“We also cannot forget that nine other appropriations bills remain.  The Appropriations Committee has already reported seven of these remaining bill to the full Senate – all with very strong bipartisan margins.


“This week, the Committee will mark up the final two appropriations bills – Defense and Labor, HHS - and I expect a similar result.


“While we are about a quarter of the way through the fiscal year 2019 appropriations process, we still have a long way to go.  But we have a framework for success.  No poison pill riders.  No new authorizations of law.  No non-germane provisions.


“I’ve said it many times before, and I will keep saying it.  This is the basis of the agreement I have with Vice Chairman Leahy.  This is the approach that our subcommittee chairmen and ranking members have adopted in producing strong and balanced bills.  This is the way to avoid the catch-all spending measures and shutdowns we all detest.  This is how the appropriations process is supposed to work.  Mr. President, this is simply what the American people expect both parties to do.


“Looking ahead, I don’t think any of us are naïve about the potential for partisan politics to snake its way back into the appropriations process.  Tomorrow is a different day, after all.


“But we have a Constitutional responsibility to allocate taxpayer money in a deliberate manner, and we have a viable path forward.  So it’s my hope, Mr. President, that today marks a new day for the appropriations process in the Senate. 


“To all of my colleagues, thank you again for your cooperation.  I ask that you continue to work with us in the weeks ahead so that we can successfully pass all 12 appropriations bills on the Senate floor.


“With that Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to support this bill.  I yield the floor.”