Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski signaled again Tuesday that she intends to bring spending bills to the floor this year.
The Maryland Democrat outlined her proposed schedule at a Tuesday morning hearing of the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs subcommittee, before pushing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki about efforts to fight the department's claims backlog.
"Our goal will be on May 22 to have our first full committee markup," Mikulski said. "If I'm advised by the subcommittee chair and his vice chair that they're ready to go, the committee will be ready to go."
"We want to be on the floor by [as] soon after Memorial Day as we can to show that it's not just words, but it's deeds, and that we will do the discretionary part that we're supposed to do, and to do it," Mikulski said, speaking to the budget for veterans programs.
Considering appropriations bills on the Senate floor has become something of a lost art, but Mikulski is eager to revive the practice, and she's staking her claim to precious floor time. She is aided in her quest by having already agreed upon top-line spending numbers from the budget agreement negotiated by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.
"This committee is really committed to the VA appropriations," Mikulski said Tuesday. "It is our goal to make the VA subcommittee, the VA-MilCon, one of our earliest markups. We now have ... a committee goal of completing our work by Oct. 1. It would be the first time since 1996 that it did it. We're in the process of holding 60 hearings in six weeks. We are on a brisk pace."