Lowey statement at conference committee meeting on FY 2019 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bill
As we conference fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills, I must express my disappointment that the House did not follow the Senate in pursuing a bipartisan process.
Unfortunately, that means that the House version of the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bill includes both cuts to many priorities for the American people and unacceptable poison pill riders that weaken environmental safeguards.
We must do better — and it is my sincere hope that this conference committee restores funding for energy efficiency and transformational science programs while eliminating harmful riders.
We should not risk a government shutdown over partisan riders that do not have any place in government spending bills. If these riders were noncontroversial, they would have been passed as separate bills through the appropriate policy committees.
Turning to the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs division, I am pleased that both the House and Senate versions of this legislation ensure that our veterans and their families receive the support they have earned.
However, we are still faced with the failure of either chamber to adequately address the transition of the VA Choice program from mandatory to discretionary spending.
Whether we fix this issue in conference or not, at some point Congress will be forced to address this shortfall and avoid cuts to vital domestic programs, including veteran’s services.
Finally, I’d like to thank Tim Ryan for leading the fight to pay House interns and Chairman Frelinghuysen for agreeing to add dedicated funding for this to the conference agreement. Interns should be reflective of the country we serve, and we should help a more diverse range of young people follow their dreams and begin a career in public service.
The remaining open items are challenging, but not insurmountable. I look forward to working with all of you to produce a strong, bipartisan minibus in a bipartisan and expeditious manner.