McConnell: We’ll Continue Moving Forward with the Appropriations Process
‘By returning to regular order, we are better able to make careful decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent through the appropriations bills.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the Senate’s record progress on appropriations bills in 40 years:
“Last week, the Republican-led Senate passed by an overwhelming majority the first appropriations bill of the year — the energy security and water infrastructure funding bill.
“The Republican-led Senate did so in record early time. We began consideration of an annual appropriations bill this year at the earliest point in 40 years, then we passed an annual appropriations bill this year at the earliest point in 40 years. Passage of this bill also marks the first time the Senate has passed an individual energy and water funding measure since 2009.
“It shows what’s possible with a little cooperation and regular order.
“By returning to regular order, we are better able to make careful decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent through the appropriations bills.
“Here’s what we mean when we talk about returning to regular order.
- We mean working in committee, allowing Senators from both sides to have their voices heard.
- We mean bringing bills to the floor, empowering more members to offer suggestions they think might make a good bill even better.
- We mean working through hours of debate and deliberation, processing amendments from both sides, then arriving at a final bill that passes.
“That’s just what we did here, and it resulted in the record early passage of an energy and water appropriations bill that will help support economic development, waterways infrastructure, and energy programs — initiatives that are important in my home state of Kentucky and in states across our country.
“I want to thank Senator Alexander for working diligently with Senator Feinstein to move this bill forward. They collaborated with both Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure a fair process and an outcome that a majority of Senators could support.
“I also want to thank Chairman Cochran and Ranking Member Mikulski for working within the Appropriations Committee to move appropriations measures so early this year.
“We’ve already begun considering two more of them this week.
“The first measure is the transportation and housing infrastructure bill.
- It will make smart investments in important infrastructure priorities.
- It will strengthen our surface transportation network and help make air travel safer, more efficient and more reliable.
- I thank Senator Collins for her dedicated leadership on this important legislation.
- The second measure is the veterans and military construction funding bill.
- It will increase accountability at the VA and help ensure veterans receive health care and benefits they rely on.
- It will advance vital national security projects like missile defense and help ensure military families are supported with housing, schools, and health facilities to serve them.
- It’s the result of great work by a true champion of veterans, Senator Kirk.
“Senator Kirk and Senator Collins both worked hard to move their bills out of the Appropriations Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support.
“Now they’re working hard to pass them — together — here on the floor.
“They’ve already lined up several amendments that we’ll consider later today.
“I’d like to say a few words about one of these issues in particular.
“Both Republicans and Democrats agree that preventing the spread of Zika is a bipartisan priority.
“That’s why members from both parties have been looking at different approaches to properly address the situation.
“They worked through the best avenue to address the funding that may be needed to do so — the appropriations process — and came up with several different approaches for us to consider today.
“One amendment is from Senators Blunt and Murray. It’s a targeted approach that focuses on immediate needs while also providing resources for longer-term goals like a vaccine. It includes accountability measures and represents a notable departure from our Democratic colleagues’ initial position. It was good to see Democrats compromise.
“Another amendment is from Senators Cornyn and Johnson. Their enhanced approach builds upon the appropriators work by responsibly offsetting Zika funding with funds that have been set aside for public health and prevention purposes. It would also remove red tape to help promote mosquito control, which is the best way to keep Americans safe from this virus in the near term while a vaccine is under development.
“The House is also advancing its own paid-for Zika measure this week.
“So we’ll take several votes today. We’ll continue moving forward with the appropriations process. And we’ll address Zika funding in that context — because keeping Americans safe and healthy is a top priority for all of us.”
Related Issues: Infrastructure, Zika Virus, Appropriations, Restoring the Senate