Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL
(House of Representatives - May 03, 2017)
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[Page H3073] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen). The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Mitchell) for 5 minutes. Mr. MITCHELL. Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my disappointment that, yet again, Congress needs to resort to another omnibus spending bill. We are in a bind right now, finishing fiscal business that should have been completed last year, long before I came to Congress. At this moment, the choice is stark and binary: We can vote to shut the government down, or we can vote for this massive funding bill. Neither is a good option, but shutting down the government is reckless. It would stall military pay and send a sign of weakness to the world. At a time when North Korea is becoming increasingly aggressive, Europe is unstable, and Russia is posturing, we cannot afford to shut down. I have always said, and I believe, that effective leadership needs to say what you mean and do what you say. If I voted ``no'' on this legislation, it would be disingenuous because I know a shutdown would be disastrous. This is a hard vote to take, but it is unavoidable at this point. We must continue to pay our troops and other uniformed personnel. We must fund critical programs included in this omnibus. Certainly, the legislation is not perfect and doesn't accomplish everything I want as a conservative, but it does achieve some objectives. It cuts 150 Federal programs. It reduces the EPA bureaucracy to the lowest level since 1989. The legislation also funds critical programs Republicans have been fighting for: It strengthens our military with an increase in defense spending, enabling the purchase of new warships, aircraft, and weapons. It provides a meaningful increase in salary to our uniform personnel. It provides additional funds to thwart the global war on terror and fight ISIS. It is part of an overall $1.52 billion increase in resources for border security, meaning more agents, enhanced technology, updated infrastructure to stem the flow of illegal aliens and drug activity across our border. It includes funds to fight the opioid epidemic, funding grants, treatment, and prevention efforts. It also provides increased funds for the National Institutes of Health to continue disease research that impacts every family. For Michigan, important programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are fully funded. It appropriates $5.6 million to study the potential invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. While there are beneficial components in this omnibus, I want to underscore that using an omnibus is not how this body should function. We should be passing targeted, individual spending measures that address each agency, rather than a take-it-or-leave-it massive spending bill. Going forward, we must change what has become business as usual in Washington. That is why I ran for Congress. There is no doubt, that won't be easy. I am learning every day how much our system needs significant reform. Only four times since 1977 were all appropriations enacted by the start of the fiscal year. That is four times in the last 40 years that the appropriations process has been effectively completed. Given that, it is unsurprising we find ourselves making this unfortunate choice yet again. Madam Speaker, I stand here to say we can do better; we must do better. I urge this body to come together to address the shortcomings in our appropriations process and develop better solutions for the future. Given today's options, I am voting to keep our government open, but we must end this series of short-term funding measures. We can do better. Our constituents deserve better. ____________________