Richard Shelby: Senate takes another step toward regular order in Appropriations process

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Alabama’s senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Defense, on Tuesday delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the consideration of H.R. 6147.

This bill packages four Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations measures, including Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.  All four of the bills were passed by the full committee with unanimous support.

“I am proud that the Senate is taking another step toward regular order in the appropriations process,” said  Shelby. “It is evident that appropriators on both sides of the aisle have embraced a willingness to sacrifice partisan riders for the good of the process. I encourage my colleagues to sustain the momentum we have generated and support this bill.”

This legislation comes on the heels of last month’s passage of H.R. 5895, a minibus including three FY2019 appropriations bills, which passed the Senate with the overwhelming support of 86-5.  All 12 of the Senate’s FY2019 appropriations measures were passed out of the committee by wide bipartisan margins and were approved by a cumulative committee vote of 363-9.

Watch Shelby’s floor speech below:

Shelby’s full remarks, as prepared, are as follows:

Thank you, Madam President.  

Madam President, this week the Senate takes another step toward regular order in the appropriations process. The package before the Senate contains the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills for the Subcommittees on Interior; Financial Services; Agriculture; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. 

Madam President, we have not debated an Interior appropriations bill on the floor of the United States Senate in nearly a decade. The Financial Services appropriations bill has not seen floor action in several years either. 

Why, Madam President? Because year after year party-line votes in committee represented the end of the line in the legislative process. Yet here we are today, debating both of these appropriations bills and more on the Senate floor. 

So what changed, Madam President? What changed was the mindset of appropriators on both sides of the aisle who embraced a willingness to sacrifice partisan riders and priorities outside the committee’s jurisdiction for the good of the process.

Together we committed to do what’s good for the process because we want to do what’s right by the American people. This approach has yielded meaningful results thus far.

The Interior and Financial Services bills in this package both won the unanimous approval of the Appropriations Committee. Unanimous, Madam President. We haven’t seen that level of support for these bills in quite some time around here.

The Agriculture and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bills also garnered the unanimous support of the Appropriations Committee.

I want to commend the chairmen of these subcommittees – Senators Murkowski, Collins, Hoeven, and Lankford – for their leadership in this process. They have worked cooperatively with their Democratic counterparts and produced strong, bipartisan bills.

This broad bipartisan support paved the way for the full Senate’s consideration of these bills, and I want to thank Leaders McConnell and Schumer for agreeing to bring this package to the floor.

As we begin debate this week, we can leverage our recent success in passing appropriations bills. Just last month, the Senate passed a package of three fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills with overwhelming support.

This support was facilitated by an open amendment process and a willingness to work together to address legitimate member concerns. As a result, the process was both open and disciplined.

More importantly, it was successful, passing by a vote of 86 – 5. The bill managers on both sides of the aisle will seek to replicate this process and success with the package now before the Senate.

We ask the continued cooperation of all senators in this effort. Critical mass, Madam President; that’s what we’re building here in the Senate. Critical mass for a return to regular order in the appropriations process.

By completing our work in a deliberate and timely manner on this package, we can turn next to the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education package.

While completion of our work on the current package would mean that we have passed more than half of the 2019 appropriations bills, the lion’s share of discretionary spending is contained in the Defense and Labor-HHS bills.

Very important to all of us here – very important to our constituents and very important to our country, Madam President.

So again, Madam President, I encourage our colleagues to participate in this process and help sustain the momentum we’ve generated. We have a lot of work to do, but we are making real progress.

I hope my colleagues find this encouraging, Madam President; I certainly do. 

And with that I yield the floor.

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