In recent years, lawmakers in both chambers have used the budget for congressional offices and support agencies as an opportunity to prove Congress can lead by example in the quest to cut government spending.
According to Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, fiscal 2015 will be another year of “doing more with less.”
Cole convened a hearing on appropriations for the Government Printing Office, the Architect of the Capitol and the Congressional Budget Office on the same day President Barack Obama released his budget for fiscal 2015. Unlike the other appropriations bills, the legislative branch budget is made up of requests from the legislative agencies and offices that it funds, not from the White House Office of Management and Budget. Obama’s proposal would provide roughly $4.46 billion in spending for lawmakers and Capitol Hill agencies, according to Cole — an increase of about $200 million, or 4.8 percent, from the $4.26 billion enacted in January as part of the fiscal 2014 omnibus spending bill.
The Senate also wants an increase from the $932 million appropriation enacted in the latest omnibus. Obama’s budget requests about $1.02 billion for the chamber.
Cole said the nation’s $17 trillion debt would make it “very difficult not only to maintain current levels, but to increase” above current levels, although most of the agencies under the committee’s jurisdiction want more money.
The AOC’s budget, for example, reached a historic high in fiscal 2014 and the agency’s $676.6 million request for fiscal 2015 would be a 12.4 percent increase above current levels.
Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers explained that even with the boost, his team would only be able to tackle 21 projects from the long list of deferred maintenance assignments around the Capitol campus.
High on that list of priorities is a renewal of the Cannon House Office Building, which has not had a major renovation since it was constructed in 1908.
Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks testified in support of the Government Printing Office’s $128.9 million request for fiscal 2015 — an increase of 8 percent above current levels.
She said the agency is “committed to transforming from a print-centric to a content-centric publishing operation and this appropriations request will provide us with the resources to continue this effort.”