Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Date: April 14, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1473 and urge my colleagues to vote for this imperfect compromise. This is not the spending bill I would have written, and it is safe to say that not one Member of Congress believes this bill is perfect. However, Democrats and Republicans have spent endless hours negotiating across the aisle to form something that is at least satisfactory to most, and I appreciate their efforts.

Congress has passed seven interim continuing resolutions (CRs) in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and has funded most of the year with stopgap spending bills. On the same day we are voting on FY 2011 funding, we are considering the FY 2012 budget. The time has passed for us to enact a full-year spending measure for FY 2011 that will allow us to focus on the future and bring stability back to the federal government.

While I am pleased this CR is a significant improvement from H.R. 1, the previous full-year CR, this bill still includes hazardous cuts that threaten many important federal programs. I believe Congress's spending legislation should reflect what our Nation values most, and I do not like what this bill says about our priorities.

The current CR includes cuts that will fall on the backs of our most vulnerable populations, including low-income women and children, dislocated workers, and those in need of affordable health care. I also do not support its cuts to law enforcement and emergency responsiveness, nor its massive reduction in environmental conservation funding. The current CR also fails to prioritize innovation and development, and I believe such reduced funding for critical government programs will delay our economic recovery.

In all, the bill cuts over $40 billion from FY 2010 spending levels. Yet it actually increases defense spending. Mr. Speaker, this bill is not an accurate portrayal of my priorities, nor those of the majority of my constituents. That said, this bill is a significant improvement from H.R. 1, and only includes about a quarter of the cuts included in the original spending bill. I am happy to see that the current CR will increase investments in education, providing our children with the tools they need to succeed. Race to the Top education reforms, Head Start programs, and Pell Grants for low-income college students will receive the funding they need. I also am happy to see adequate investments in Wall Street oversight, food safety inspection, and infrastructure grants to spur local economies.

While I believe this bill cuts too far into many important government programs, I also acknowledge that everyone will need to make sacrifices if we are to adequately address our increasing level of federal debt. These spending reductions will not be easy to swallow, but we will face many difficult choices as we begin to return this country to a solid financial footing.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 1473.