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COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
WILLIAM H. NATCHER, Kentucky, Chairman JAMIE L. WHITTEN, Mississippi,
JOSEPH M. MCDADE, Pennsylvania Vice Chairman
JOHN T. MYERS, Indiana NEAL SMITH, Iowa
C. W. BILL YOUNG, Florida SIDNEY R. YATES, Winois
RALPH REGULA, Ohio DAVID R. OBEY, Wisconsin
BOB LIVINGSTON, Louisiana LOUIS STOKES, Ohio
JERRY LEWIS, California TOM BEVILL, Alabama
JOHN EDWARD PORTER, Ilinois JOHN P. MURTHA, Pennsylvania
HAROLD ROGERS, Kentucky CHARLES WILSON, Texas
JOE SKEEN, New Mexico NORMAN D. DICKS, Washington
FRANK R. WOLF, Virginia MARTIN OLAV SABO, Minnesota
TOM DELAY, Texas JULIAN C. DIXON, California
JIM KOLBE, Arizona VIC FAZIO, California
DEAN A. GALLO, New Jersey W. G. (BILL) HEFNER, North Carolina BARBARA F. VUCANOVICH, Nevada STENY H. HOYER, Maryland
JIM LIGHTFOOT, Iowa BOB CARR, Michigan
RON PACKARD, California RICHARD J. DURBIN, Ilinois
SONNY CALLAHAN, Alabama RONALD D. COLEMAN, Texas
HELEN DELICH BENTLEY, Maryland ALAN B. MOLLOHAN, West Virginia
JAMES T. WALSH, New York JIM CHAPMAN, Texas
CHARLES H. TAYLOR, North Carolina MARCY KAPTUR, Ohio
DAVID L. HOBSON, Ohio DAVID E. SKAGGS, Colorado
ERNEST J. ISTOOK, JR., Oklahoma DAVID E. PRICE, North Carolina
HENRY BONILLA, Texas
FREDERICK G. MOHRMAN, Clerk and Staff Director
LEGISLATIVE BRANCH APPROPRIATIONS FOR
FISCAL YEAR 1995
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1994. Mr. Fazio. We will now formally commence the hearings on the 1995 budget for the various legislative branch agencies under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations.
For the edification of those who can't read the name tags here, we do have a number of senior Members of the House who are Members of this subcommittee. We have Jim Moran of Virginia who is the vice-chairman of the Subcommittee, Dave Obey of Wisconsin, John Murtha of Pennsylvania, Bob Carr of Michigan, Jim Chapman of Texas; the Ranking Member of the committee, Bill Young of Florida; Ron Packard, a California colleague; and Charles Taylor of North Carolina. Obviously, we have two Members of the full committee Chairman Natcher and the Ranking Member, Mr. McDade, who are ex officio Members, free to participate at any time.
We are going to put in the record at this point the actual jurisdiction of this subcommittee. (The information follows:]
SUBCOMMITTEE JURISDICTION LEGISLATIVE BRANCH House of Representatives. Joint Items. Architect of the Capitol (Except Senate items). Botanic Garden. Congressional Budget Office. Copyright Royalty Tribunal. General Accounting Office. Government Printing Office. John C. Stennis Center. Library of Congress: Congressional Research Service; National Film Preservation Board Office of Technology Assessment. United States Capitol Preservation Commission.
Mr. FAZIO. There are a few items that we don't have before us that are technically in the legislative branch. Obviously, the Senate is handled on the other side of the Capitol, but interestingly enough, the Tax Court comes under the legislative branch, but we don't
ever hear testimony there. (CLERK'S NOTE.—The Budget of the United States Government includes the U.S. Tax Court in the “Legislative Branch.” The House Committee on Appropriations places the U.S. Tax Court under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government.)
The budget we are going to consider totals $1.9 billion. That, of course, does not include the Senate items. Of the portion of this budget that will be considered by this subcommittee, $1.2 billion is for congressional operations.
The balance of the funds, almost $800 million, support statutory and administrative activities in the legislative branch that are performed for the executive branch and for the public-at-large. These include such activities as the general program at the Library of Congress, the Government Printing Office, and the General Accounting Office. The funds for the legislative branch that require appropriations funding are primarily for staff, computers, and other business machines.
We are almost totally an administrative function in this branch. There is very little capital outlay and no grant money. We are essentially people and things that make people more productive.
We should point out there is far more than the $1.9 billion in appropriations included. There are a number of other activities that are managed by the agencies covered by our bill, a number of trust and gift funds, for example, the Copyright Royalty Fund; and there are service fees and other reimbursements which relate to the activities of the GPO and the Library of Congress, among others.
For example, in the GPO, there is a revolving fund, a method that GPO uses to provide printing services for the entire Federal Government. Under Title 44 in the Government Corporation Act, we annually authorize the operation of this fund. That is almost a billion dollars not scored against the bill, because it is derived from charges mostly to executive branch agency appropriations. The actual funding covered by the agencies in the bill, therefore, is not $1.9 billion plus whatever the Senate adds, but $3.3 billion estimated for fiscal year 1995. So the sum and the scope of these activities are much larger than many realize.
I would also like to make some historical comparisons. Last year, the fiscal year 1994 bill that we adopted was a reduction of 1.4 percent under the fiscal year 1993 appropriations for this branch's activities. In total outlays, we estimated that the fiscal year 1994 expenditure would be reduced by some 5.2 percent.
As you know, we actually provide for the authority to obligate funds in the Appropriations Committee. The authorizing committees authorize, we provide the authorization to obligate, which is called an appropriation. The actual outlays which we have begun to focus on in more recent years is a result of passage of various budget deficit control acts, like Gramm-Rudman, and are really not under the control of the Congress. The outlays result from the obligating actions taken by the executive agencies or, in this case, the agencies within the legislative branch. The outlays actually occur as a result of obligational authority which has been granted over a several year period in many instances.
Those dollars may spend out within two or three, sometimes four fiscal years after the authority to spend has been provided. So it normally requires a lag time for outlay reductions actually to catch up with decisions made in prior Congresses. But we are being judged not just by what we estimate the outlays to be when we get to the Floor, but also by the degree to which we provide budget authority to obligate. We have seen a decline in both those categories
in the last year. It is a continuing process. It has become more focused because of an agreement made last year with our leadership on a bipartisan basis to track the degree to which the executive branch makes reductions in both personnel and in administrative costs.
I think we will end up being judged, frankly, by total dollars and cents. We always have to adhere to a higher standard here. Regrettably, it gets confused. People don't stop to think, well, are we talking about a 25 percent reduction in staff or total budget or administrative costs? "Oh, let's just do 25 percent. We will worry about what we meant later on.
But when we get to the Floor, we have a very real litmus test of whether we have met the standard, and that is whether we get a majority to vote for the appropriation. And so I think it is important that we point out that we, unlike almost any, certainly any other bill considered by this full committee, have to meet a different standard. And we will continue to meet it, perhaps following language that might be included in the Hamilton-Boren joint committee's recommendations.
Regardless, we are still on a path toward reductions in this branch of government, which, as we get into the hearings on this bill, will become increasingly evident when we talk about such items as I am sure Donn Anderson will bring to our attention.
When we start talking about other things we might want to do to improve efficiency-for example, instead of leasing a building, purchasing a building—we have to talk to CBO about how that is scored; but the bottom line is in our budget-driven policies here. We are required to keep on a downward path in terms of BA and outlays, and it doesn't give us a lot of room to do what might normally be considered to be a logical thing, given equity, given the potential long-term savings in the second example.
We should note that using fiscal year 1992 as a base line, CBO reckoned the budget authority for the legislative operational activity, excluding Senate again, would have been significantly higher than it was. They projected that costs for maintaining the same program level of 1994 would have required $2 billion to be appropriated. In fact, we only appropriated $1.8 billion, a reduction of $229 million.
In other words, in the two years between fiscal year 1992 and fiscal year 1994, we have reduced from the baseline 11.4 percent. So I think we can say we are almost halfway toward a 25 percent reduction, if that is what you are interested in, in the real dollar budget for the legislative branch. I think that is a very important point.
We are never judged on the Floor on the basis of the base line. Every program in the executive branch is measured from the baseline. People had thought that was too easy a test for us, yet we are now 11.4 percent, in two fiscal years below CBO's baseline for this branch of government. I think sometimes that is overlooked.
I am glad to see Roll Call writing furiously. As we go through these hearings that begin today, we will review each request carefully and ask whether or not it is essential to the workings of the legislative branch, or whether we can cut it back.
I think our record has been good. CRS has calculated that we have held the legislative branch bill to an average growth of 2.8 percent over the past ten years. That is less than the average growth of prices, so we have clearly actually had a declining budget in real terms over the past ten years. We will put that percentage up against any executive branch agency, and we will win every time because, even during the most tight-fisted period for almost any agency in the domestic sector in the executive budget, we have done very well.
The fiscal year 1995 budget request represents an increase over 1994 appropriations. It is important to realize that this is only the request. The committee will undoubtedly make reductions when we mark up the bill, just as we do every year. I have often seen folks, the Wall Street Journal on its editorial page, for example, talk about the huge increases in legislative branch spending. Well, in fact, the requests have been reduced markedly.
We have been, frankly, an agency that has to do our own OMB work right here. We don't have an interim budget function between the requestor and this committee. In fact, OMB has one simple function, and that is to amalgamate the requests that come from the legislative branch agencies, and put them in the budget. That we are having hearings today is indicative of the fact that we know what our budget will look like before it comes to the Hill as part of the President's, because historically, and by law, the President passes it through to us unmarked. As a result, we are in a better position to take early testimony and begin the process of calculating where we want to go with our markup. The fiscal year 1995
budget request, as I indicated, represents an increase, but I am confident when we finish marking it up, it will represent a decrease. The increases are appropriate for us to consider, I think. They are more often than not a fair and accurate judgment by legislative branch leaders, and I mean people who will be testifying before us, about what their real needs are.
Those needs have to face the reality of what we have to live with in the process of passing this bill. We are, therefore, only reviewing what is requested by these agencies.
In the case of the House of Representatives, for example, the Director of Non-Legislative and Financial Services puts together the budget request and submits it formally to us, as I indicated, in the pass-through OMB process. Mr. Medlock, who is here today, as the Acting Director of Non-Legislative and Financial Services, will testify upon the basis of his request.
In many cases, the budget simply requests the amount authorized for the activity under law previously enacted. The assumption is, I think, that we will not appropriate to the authorized level. We rarely do, but we always like to know what the outside limit would be.
If Members should expand to the authorized level, and we have underappropriated, we have to engage in reprogramming or some scaling down of that authorization before the end of the fiscal year. We like to avoid that if possible, but it is something we need to talk about this year.
Those authorized amounts tend to be much higher, in several instances, than the committee will allow, as I have indicated. I think