WASHINGTON, D.C.... On Saturday, President Bush signed the
third continuing resolution to cover for the financial mess
left by the outgoing Republican Congressional Leadership.
However, that short-term measure only lasts until February
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and U.S.
Representative Dave Obey, D-Wisc., will lead the Senate and
House Appropriations Committees when the new Congress
convenes. Today, they issued a joint statement outlining
their plan to complete the unfinished federal funding bills
for the current fiscal year.
The Congressional Republican Leadership started the year
with a budget so unrealistic that their own members rejected
it. Despite the best efforts of the chairmen of the
Appropriations Committees, the GOP has ended the year
without so much as completing work on a single
appropriations bill that invests in our communities,
provides for the medical care of our veterans, helps to
fight crime in our communities, or works to make college
more affordable. It is a record of dismal failure for the
American people. Now, the incoming 110th Congress will have
to clean up the mess left behind.
The new Congress will face, as one of its first orders of
business, the job of finishing the appropriations process
for the current year. We also must prepare for February’s
arrival of the President's new budget and an expensive White
House request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
outgoing Republican Leadership's failure to govern has
denied the new Congress the opportunity to start with a
As incoming Chairmen of the House and Senate
Appropriations Committees, we are now responsible for
finding a way out of this fiscal mayhem. It is important
that we clear the decks quickly so that we can get to work
on the American people's priorities, the President's
anticipated war funding request, and a new budget.
Unfortunately, there are no good options available to us
to complete the unfinished work of the Republican Congress.
After discussions with our colleagues, we have decided to
dispose of the Republican budget leftovers by passing a
year-long joint resolution. We will do our best to make
whatever limited adjustments are possible within the
confines of the Republican budget to address the nation's
most important policy concerns. We intend to work with the
leadership of both parties in both houses to do what we can
to resolve last year's disputes and turn to the challenges
facing us in the new fiscal year.
While the results will be far from ideal, this path
provides the best way to dispose of the unfinished business
quickly, and allow governors, state and local officials, and
families to finally plan for the coming year with some
knowledge of what the federal government is funding.
There will be no Congressional earmarks in the joint
funding resolution that we will pass. We will place a
moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put
in place. Earmarks included in this year's House and Senate
bills will be eligible for consideration in the 2008
process, subject to new standards for transparency and
accountability. We will work to restore an accountable,
above-board, transparent process for funding decisions and
put an end to the abuses that have harmed the credibility of
There is no good way out of the fiscal chaos left behind
by the outgoing Congress. Indeed, this joint resolution
provides the Administration far too much latitude in
spending the people's money. But that is a temporary price
that we will pay in order to give the President's new budget
the attention and oversight it deserves and requires, and so
that we can begin work right away at putting the people's
priorities front and center. We, in the new Congress, have a
responsibility to build the foundation for a better future.
We cannot begin that work until we fix the problems left
behind by the Republican Congress. So, we must turn the page
on the Republican failures and work together in the best
interests of the American people.
The last time each of the appropriations bills were
passed by Congress individually and signed into law on time
was 1994 -- the last time we both chaired the Appropriations
Committees. That is the best way to govern and we are
committed to that effort.
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