The House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch approved a fiscal 2013 spending plan Friday that would maintain this year’s $1.2 billion allocation for the chamber’s operations.
In contrast to last year’s tussle over the legislation, when Democrats decried the GOP’s budgetary belt-tightening, this year’s markup went off with little or no controversy.
“Even with a lower allocation, the chairman was able to level funds and even increase several funds important to Members,” subcommittee ranking member Mike Honda said of his Republican counterpart, Ander Crenshaw (Fla.). “I’d like to reiterate my appreciation.”
The California Democrat also praised the inclusion of committee report language “to help ensure the safety and security of Members’ district offices.”
Overall, the draft spending bill would provide $3.3 billion for House and joint Congressional operations, including Members’ Representational Allowances that pay office salaries and expenses, which is $34 million below the current level. The measure excludes Senate-only operations.
The Capitol Police and Government Accountability Office, two agencies that Members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers fought to spare from cuts during the last budget cycle, would be funded at $360 million and $520 million, respectively.
That amounts to a 5.8 percent increase for the Capitol Police and a 1.7 percent hike for the GAO.
Those increases were paid for with cuts in other operations.
The Architect of the Capitol’s allocation is $444 million, 13.4 percent below its fiscal 2012 level.
Crenshaw said the funding would allow the AOC to go through its multimillion-dollar backlog of deferred maintenance projects but would halt the second phase of the Capitol Dome restoration project.
That didn’t sit well with Appropriations ranking member Norm Dicks.
“As everyone who looks up at the Capitol Dome knows, the Architect of the Capitol is in the middle of an extensive restoration effort,” the Washington Democrat said. “I’d prefer the Dome remain a monument to our nation’s greatness and not become a symbol for short-sighted austerity.”
Crenshaw said the full committee will likely mark up the bill when the House returns next week.
Issa Might Slow Ike Memorial
Members of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission are hoping to get the go-ahead soon to break ground on a monument to the former president and supreme commander of Allied forces during World War II, but a key lawmaker could bring the project to a standstill.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa told Roll Call on Friday that his team was investigating how the commission has functioned since its inception.
“There’s a substantial question of whether or not we get value for [the memorial], and that’s in the eyes of some Members [and] the family,” the California Republican said. He was referring to lawmakers and Dwight Eisenhower’s relatives who have rejected the current memorial design as unworthy of Eisenhower’s legacy.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.