Shelby: Appropriation Bills Must Conform to Budget Control Act Limit
WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, July 25, 2013 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee today issued the following statement at a full committee markup of the State, Foreign Operations and the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bills.
The full text of Shelby’s statement is below:
“Thank you, Madam Chair.
“Today we vote to report the State, Foreign Operations and the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bills.
“These two bills support programs and agencies that span government, from military aid for Israel and international assistance, to financial regulatory agencies and the Federal Judiciary.
“I acknowledge that the bills contain provisions that deserve support and are the result of bipartisan agreement.
“Both bills, however, have problematic top-line spending implications.
“The Financial Services and General Government bill is almost 36 percent above the House level, the largest percentage difference of any bill reported by this Committee compared to its House counterpart. It is about 7 percent above even the 2013 pre-sequester level.
“In addition, the State, Foreign Operations bill is over 29 percent higher than its companion bill in the House.
“Notably, the combined total of these two bills and the eight other bills that have been reported by this Committee exceeds the Budget Control Act non-defense cap by over $6 billion.
“In other words, if all of these bills were enacted, the programs they fund would be subject to a 6-billion-dollar sequester. And this does not even account for the Interior and Environment bill, which has not been reported yet and will include over $30 billion in non-defense spending.
“With just over a month until the next Fiscal Year begins, time is running out to pass appropriations bills that conform to the Budget Control Act limit. Soon, the fiction will have to come to an end.
“In addition to my concerns over total spending levels, I have strong objections to funding included in the Financial Services bill to implement both Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act.
“For example, the bill provides an over-50 percent increase for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to accommodate its expansion under Dodd-Frank.
“It also increases funding for the IRS by $275 million, most of which would go to programs that carry out the Affordable Care Act. As I said before, this Committee should not fund the failures of Obamacare.
“And while Congress will ultimately decide how to fund these programs, one financial bureau of the government continues to be noticeably absent from the appropriations process: the Bureau for Consumer Financial Protection.
“Over two years ago, 44 Republican Senators sent a letter to President Obama stating that they would not confirm a Director of the CFPB until three reforms were put in place to make it more accountable.
“One of these reforms would have subjected the CFPB to the Congressional appropriations process.
“Although the CFPB now has a Director that has been confirmed by the Senate, and close to 1,000 employees, it still has no accountability.
“Instead of requiring the CFPB to go through appropriations for its funding, which could be as much as $600 million in 2014, it is automatically transferred to the CFPB from Federal Reserve funds that should go to taxpayers.
“Members of this Committee know how important the power of the purse is in allowing Congress to provided needed oversight.
“I am disappointed that none of the reforms outlined by Republican Senators in 2011 were accepted. The CFPB retains unchecked authority over not only how much and in what manner it spends, but also over the decisions of consumers and the financial system as a whole.
“It remains, in my opinion, one of the more egregious abrogations of Congressional authority that I have ever seen.
“Financial regulatory agencies should be protected from parochial political meddling; they should not, however, be insulated from legitimate Congressional oversight.
“In the CFPB, Dodd-Frank created an agency that views Congressional direction as merely a recommendation. This should be unacceptable to each and every one of us.
“Thank you, Madam Chair.”