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James H.
Democrat CT 4

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  • Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

    by Representative James A. Himes

    Posted on 2013-03-06

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    HIMES. Mr. Speaker, while I supported today's continuing resolution in an effort to ensure that essential governmental operations are funded beyond March 27, there remain many questions about the application of the sequester.

    One area that few Members of Congress or the administration are discussing is whether sequestration should apply to certain entities that Congress clearly intended to be legally independent of the federal government. Congress recognized the crucial importance of maintaining the objectivity of each of these entities and insulated them from the federal appropriations process in order to maintain their independence.

    For example, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (``FASB''), the entity that establishes generally accepted accounting principles is a private entity that is explicitly not part of the Congressional appropriations process under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Indeed, that Act specifically states that FASB revenues are not to be considered ``public monies.'' Unfortunately, the Office of Management and Budget's sequestration order would require the private fee income on which FASB relies for its operations to be subject to the sequester. This is despite Congress' explicit intent in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to keep FASB independent.

    More fundamentally, sequestration of these monies makes no sense. FASB's funding does not come from the federal government and is instead collected from accounting support fees allocated among public issuers. As a result, sequestration of FASB funding has no effect on reducing the federal deficit. It does, however, undermine FASB's independence and important role in setting accounting standards for U.S. public issuers.

    Other entities similar to FASB are also being sequestered despite Congress' clear intent to keep them separate from the federal [[Page H1313]] budget process. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation are all entities subject to the sequester notwithstanding the fact that they collect fee income independent of the federal budget process.

    Subjecting these entities to sequestration would seriously undermine the intent of Congress to keep them apart from the federal budget process as independent organizations. As we consider the effect of sequestration in the coming days and weeks, I urge my colleagues to support a legislative remedy that would ensure that entities like FASB are not subject to sequestration.

    Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill.

    While this bill does exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from sequestration, that is the only good news in this bill.

    H.R. 933 does provide the Department of Defense with a better balance between its operations and maintenance accounts and its longer-term investment accounts. However, it will do nothing to stop the $46 billion sequester for the Department of Defense, which will result in civilian furloughs, deployment and training cutbacks, and facility maintenance cuts.

    The bill shortchanges our homeland security needs by denying a requested increase for FEMA State and Local Grants, locking the program into its lowest funding level in history and shortchanging disaster preparedness and anti-terrorism funds to states, urban areas, ports, transit, and first responders.

    Communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy are also shortchanged by this bill. H.R. 933 does not include funding requests important for disaster recovery, cyber-security, water infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and weatherization, including a request to lower the local cost-share from 65/35 to 90/10 for Army Corps of Engineers projects in communities affected by Sandy, hindering ability of local communities to recover and rebuild.

    The bill also violates the intent of the Affordable Care Act by failing to include a requested $949 million to implement health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, scheduled to begin enrolling participants in October. Funding is needed for IT infrastructure to process enrollments and payments, eligibility verification, call centers, and other assistance to help individuals and small businesses select and enroll in health plans.

    I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this badly flawed bill.

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