From the office of Congressman Andy Harris:
Congressman Andy Harris’ Statement on Omnibus Spending Bill Vote
WASHINGTON, DC: Congressman Andy Harris (MD-01) released the following statement after voting against the Omnibus spending bill in the House:
“While the spending bill had several good provisions, I cannot support a bill that does not address the surge of Syrian refugees into this country without a thorough vetting process. With the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, the security of our nation should be our top concern. I am also concerned about the increases in non-defense spending in a time where our country is facing large deficits and growing federal debt.”
From the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski:
MIKULSKI SPEAKS ON SENATE FLOOR ABOUT FIGHTING FOR MARYLAND AND NATION IN OMNIBUS
On Friday, the legislation passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now heads to the White House to be signed into law by the President
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Thursday spoke on the Senate floor about how she fought for the day-to-day needs of Maryland and long-term needs of the nation in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016.
On Friday, the legislation passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now heads to the White House to be signed into law by the President.
Senator Mikulski’s remarks, as delivered, follow:
“Mr. President, I rise to speak on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, otherwise known as the Omnibus. Three months ago, it was unclear if we would get a budget deal that would lift the caps for both defense and non-defense spending. It was unclear if we would head to a shutdown. And it was unclear if we could cancel sequester.
“I’m proud to say as Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee, the Committee has completed its work. And we’ve done it in a bipartisan way, and a way that there will not be a shutdown of government. We have cancelled sequester, and we’ve done this in a responsible way.
“The House is working on the bill now, and we shall be voting on it tomorrow. Tomorrow I will talk about the national implications of the bill when it comes before the Senate. But today, as the Senator from Maryland and for Maryland, I would like to talk about the public investments this bill makes to support the nation’s needs, which also support Maryland’s needs and supports Maryland jobs.
“As the Vice Chairwoman of the Committee, my first job is to be – as the Constitution requires – the Senator from Maryland. And I require myself to be the Senator for Maryland. I’m proud to say that this bill does make the kind of public investments that I believe will help America and Maryland’s future. This bill delivers on a promise that I made many years ago that I would look out for the day-to-day needs of my constituents and the long-range needs of country.
“Mr. President, you’d be interested to know Maryland is the home to 20 major federal facilities and more than 300,000 federal employees and retirees. We have great military installations like Fort Meade, the National Security Agency, Cyber Command, the U.S. Naval Academy, Naval Bethesda and Walter Reed. Maryland also has great public institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Weather Service which controls NOAA satellites that tell us what the weather will be, and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though we have the federal assets in Maryland, they serve the nation. They aren’t just Maryland institutions, they’re national institutions that employ Marylanders.
“In this bill, working on a bipartisan basis we have increased the funding for NIH by $2 billion, increasing it to $32 billion. Working with both Senator Murray, who is the Ranking Member and Senator Blunt, the Chair of the Subcommittee, we have nicknamed NIH the ‘National Institutes of Hope.’ Why? Because it looks to find the cures and breakthroughs for America’s devastating diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
“But at the same time, while we work on finding the research funding for cures and breakthroughs, they must be moved to clinical practice. That’s why we in Maryland have fought so hard to make sure the FDA is capitalized in a way it does its job. The FDA employs nearly 16,000 people, and is responsible for our food safety – both here and as it comes in from abroad. And also for being able to move drugs, biologics and medical devices in a way that is safe and effective. It’s a big job and a big employer in our state.
“We also want to make sure that we look out for those that are the most needy. This Senate and this Congress often talk about Social Security and Medicare. Both of those – Social Security Administration and C.M.S. – are located in Maryland. We’re very proud of that.
“The Social Security Administration is in Baltimore County in a neighborhood called Woodlawn. Its building is 57 years old, and it hasn’t had any significant improvements since 1959. They work in terrible conditions with mold, decay, crumbling technology and even vermin. We really need to make sure that those who administer the Social Security program have the right facilities and the right technology.
“We work very hard to be able to stand up for our federal employees, and working on a bipartisan basis, we allowed a 1.46 percent cost of living adjustment. We were absolutely appalled to find out about the OPM data breach which had a devastating effect on over 130,000 federal employees, both here and around the country. What we did, working on this bill, is going to make sure that the federal employees have 10 years of credit protection.
“Though OPM fell down on the job protecting them, we’ve also been very concerned about the physical infrastructure. We’ve worked very hard in terms of the Metro. Metro is not a Maryland subway. It’s not a Virginia Subway. It is America’s subway. For all who ride Metro, we’ve been absolutely concerned about its safety. Working with our colleagues across the Potomac, we’ve been concentrating on Metro safety, and we’ve been able to put funds in the federal checkbook to be able to improve it. We also want to be able to get people to their jobs, and that’s why we’ve funded the Purple Line.
“There’s a great opportunity in Maryland, and I hope it comes to other parts of our country, which is modernizing our ports. Whether you’re down in New Orleans, whether you’re in Baltimore, whether you’re in Charlestown, Long Beach, California – the ports need to be modernized. It’s a great opportunity for jobs, real jobs in construction. Here, I’m happy to say we working very hard over the years with my colleagues, my beloved friend, Congresswoman Helen Bentley – a Republican woman – they called us the salt and pepper of the Maryland delegation. We worked to make sure the Port of Baltimore was ready for the future.
“There are many other issues I could show, but I wanted to show that we’re making public investments that not only protect and look out for American jobs. Our federal employees working in these key agencies – the NIH, the FDA, the National Weather Service – these are civil servants who, while they’re located in Maryland, they’re working on a national mission. I’m glad of the role that I played to make sure they were capitalized.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle because they too understood why these investments are important.
“Much is said about why we need to be America the exceptional, and I believe it’s in these kind of programs – our human infrastructure, our innovation and our physical infrastructure – is what will do it.
“There are so many things in this bill. Many will complain about how big the bill is, but it’s not how big it is, it’s how effective we are in helping America be able to be what America is – a land of opportunity and a land of growth. And a land that knows how to protect its people and protect the world.”