The Appropriations Clause is the cornerstone to what we in Congress refer to as â€śthe power of the purse.â€ť Article I of the Constitution clearly states: â€śNo Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.â€ť Congress has been shirking these duties for a long time but finally, the House has done its work.
For the first time since 2009, the House has passed all 12 appropriations bills through regular order; this includes 12 subcommittee markups and 12 full committee markups. There were over 1000 amendments proposed by both Republicans and Democrats, and after sixty-five hours of debate, we completed discussion on the 340 that were made in order. We are finally governing the way we are supposed to.
Last week, I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House to pass the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act. The spending package prioritizes funding for law enforcement agencies, provides critical dollars to securing our borders, increases funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH), and invests in critical response and preparedness for disasters. It also fully funds the fight against the opioid epidemic, rolls back job-killing regulations, maintains funding for the Chesapeake Bay Research and Monitoring programs, advances critical investments in infrastructure, and provides the biggest pay raise for our troop in eight years.
This bill not only prioritizes the safety and prosperity of all Americans, it makes major strides towards a more efficient government. Instead of a deal made behind closed doors, this process allowed the American people to have a voice on how they want their hard-earned tax dollars spent.
Most critically for Virginia, the Defense portion of the bill contains language that will block funds from being used to propose, plan, or execute a new or additional base realignment and closure round and allows funds to be used for multiyear procurement contracts for up to 13 Virginia-class attack submarines. Virginia-class submarines are built in Newport News, so this provision will directly boost job growth in the Commonwealth.
If our nation is not secure, we can achieve little else. Given the threats we face around the world, passing this funding bill sends a strong signal that we are dedicated to the safety and security of all Americans, the well-being of our economy, and the men and women who protect our great nation.
Although passing 12 appropriations bills is not an accomplishment we should be celebrating, it is an important first step. I have long advocated that the House completes our spending bills on timeâ€”and that includes staying through August if our work is unfinished. My hope is that this sets a new precedent for how we consider all future appropriations legislation; it must be transparent, it must be through regular order, and it must be on time.
I will be the first to admit that reforming how Congress works will take timeâ€”but the longest of journeys must begin with a single step. I believe bringing accountability to the budget and appropriations process should be our priority.