U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee issued the following statement at a Full Committee hearing on adoption of the FY 2013 spending allocations and markup of FY 2014 appropriation bills.
“Madam Chair, I request that the letter my colleagues and I recently sent to you regarding Fiscal Year 2014 allocations be made a part of the record, along with my statement.
“Thank you, Madam Chair.
“The letter, signed by all Republican members of this Committee, states our concerns with the Fiscal Year 2014 top-line level of $1.058 trillion for discretionary spending.
“This number is about $91 billion above what current law sets as a discretionary spending limit.
“Appropriations levels are set in statute by the Budget Control Act. It establishes not only the discretionary caps for ten years, but also the measures to achieve $1.2 trillion in additional savings should the so-called Super Committee fail.
“We all know that the Super Committee did, in fact, fail.
“As a result, we had a sequester for Fiscal Year 2013 of about $55 billion for base discretionary programs.
“To achieve the remaining deficit reduction, the Budget Control Act requires that discretionary caps be lowered for Fiscal Years 2014 through 2021.
“Accordingly, the total discretionary cap for 2014 has been set at approximately $967 billion.
“If we do not abide by it, discretionary spending will be subject to another, even larger, across-the-board sequester. That is an undeniable fact.
“As members of the Appropriations Committee, it is our job to set the priorities for government funding and not have them dictated to us by an indiscriminate formula. This is one reason why I opposed the Budget Control Act. It is, however, the law.
“Unfortunately, the Majority’s top-line number ignores the law and puts us on the path to another sequester.
“If enacted, a discretionary spending level of $1.058 trillion would trigger an automatic cut that is 65 percent larger than the 2013 sequester.
“Although Republican members will not vote to support the $1.058 trillion level, it is still my hope that we can work together to write bills that adhere to the spending limit allowed by the law.
“With that in mind, I will offer a proposal today to adopt a top-line discretionary level of $967 billion.
“Republicans and Democrats have a history of working side-by-side on this Committee to fund programs, and I hope we can continue that tradition.
“In fact, the bills reported today are, in many ways, meritorious in their own right. They will, however, lose some support, including my own, because they conform to a higher top-line number.
“I recognize that we have tough choices to make, but our decisions must be guided by the law as it currently stands.
“Madam Chair, we all know that the discretionary spending cuts alone will not prevent a debt crisis. Our debt now stands at over $16.7 trillion. To tackle this problem, Congress must make tougher choices on comprehensive tax and entitlement reform.
“If we stick to the deficit reduction required in the Budget Control Act, however, we are taking one step in the right direction.
“I am prepared to work with the Chair on bills that conform to the total discretionary level set forth in law.
“I am confident that we can write responsible bills that attract broad support and provide adequate funding for the most important functions of the federal government.
“With that said, Madam Chair, at this time I move that the Committee adopt, as a substitute, a discretionary top-line of $967.473 billion for Fiscal Year 2014, and that the Chairwoman of the Committee, in consultation with the Vice Chair, be authorized to recommend to the Committee a set of subcommittee allocations that conform to that amount.”