Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Yoder, Ranking Member Ryan, and Chairman Frelinghuysen for your work on this bill.
Today, we consider funding for the operations of our nation’s Legislative Branch. This bill provides $4.49 billion for Fiscal Year 2018, a $50 million increase above current levels and $357.5 million below the budget request.
In the wake of the shooting of our colleague, Steve Scalise, and four others including Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, this bill provides a $29.2 million increase for Capitol Police and a $5 million increase for the Sergeant at Arms, for 72 new officers and improved security not only for Members but especially for constituents and staff in our district offices.
While these investments are extremely important, I cannot say that everything in this bill is positive. The Government Accountability Office would receive $568.3 million for FY 2018, $46.2 million less than its budget request. It is irresponsible to underfund the GAO, especially when Administration officials have reportedly been ordered not to comply with Democratic oversight requests. Yet, at this funding level, GAO would have to lay off forty staffers, undermining its ability to conduct oversight and ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent.
My concerns are not isolated to this bill alone. The Republican budget is months late and has left the Appropriations Committee with sequester levels that cut $5 billion from Defense and Non-Defense bills. As a result, we are yet again considering a single bill that funds one part of the government without knowing the top line budget number for any of the remaining subcommittee allocations. This is an irresponsible, reckless path, which starves remaining bills of vital resources for education, job training, infrastructure, protecting and conserving the environment, and more. Adding to the fiscal disarray, there seems to be no apparent plan to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default on the full faith and credit of the United States.
And yet, here we are, in late June, responding to rumors of budget numbers and a partisan Omnibus or minibus that has no chance of becoming law.
My colleagues, pursuing a partisan Omnibus will only put our Nation’s fiscal house in further disrepair. I urge the Chairman to bring his leadership and the White House to the negotiating table and work with Democrats rather than pursue a partisan agenda that has no hope of enactment.