As prepared for delivery:
Good afternoon. Today’s hearing covers three items. The first I’ll discuss is our emergency measure, the Continuing Appropriations and Border Security Enhancement Act.
As members are aware, the United States faces many challenges today. The uncontrolled state of our southern border is certainly one of them. President Biden’s self-inflicted border crisis continues to wreak havoc across the country. Another is the stark fiscal reality we face. Years of chronic overspending, particularly including the outrageous spending spree President Biden and Congressional Democrats went on in 2021 and 2022, has exacerbated an unsustainable trajectory. With a national debt of nearly $32 trillion, our balance sheet needs to be addressed. The approaching deadline to pass a funding bill to keep the government open and operating after September 30, just twelve days from today, reiterates the work to be done.
Funding the government is core to our duties. The process is never easy—and in divided government—notably more difficult. Yet, we must deliver on this priority and the other challenges before us if the United States is to continue to prosper now and into the future.
To start, Congress can and must address the immediate problem before us: we have two weeks to avoid a shutdown. At the beginning of this Congress, House Republicans committed to the American people that we would change the way Washington does business on appropriations bills. No more would we be handed a three-thousand-page appropriations bill the night before we would be voting on it. Instead, we committed to passing all twelve bills through regular order.
Unfortunately, the appropriations process is deeply complex, and it takes time. Sadly, we are running out of time to complete our work.
Congress ultimately has a responsibility to fund the government and keep it open and operating to provide needed services to our constituents. That is why the House is taking up the Continuing Appropriations and Border Security Enhancement Act. On the appropriations side, this bill will fund the government for another month, to October 31. That will give us additional time to work with our colleagues in the Senate, who have yet to even pass one appropriations bill.
But this bill also takes steps to address the other two challenges I mentioned. It sets an overall discretionary budget authority at $1.59 trillion, in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, or FRA. It holds defense and veterans programs harmless, ensuring that we can both continue to defend the nation and care for those who served. Other discretionary titles will see a reduction of 8% for the duration of the bill, in compliance with the FRA. These fiscal reforms will help reduce the deficit and help offset the effects of President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ spending spree.
The bill also includes border security measures to help gain operational control over the border and address the many serious security and humanitarian realities stemming from this crisis. Many of these measures build on the solutions House Republicans delivered as part of H.R. 2 earlier this year.
I look forward to considering this measure both here in the Rules Committee and on the floor this week. We owe it to our constituents to address the crises our nation is facing. The Continuing Appropriations and Border Security Enhancement Act is a major step toward doing so.
Our second item is H.R. 1130, the Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act of 2023. For the past two centuries, the United States has stood tall as one of the world’s chief energy producers. In the early part of the 19th century, coal production was dominant and helped unleash America’s industrial expansion. Oil drilling and production on a mass scale was invented in Pennsylvania in 1859—revolutionizing our growth trajectory. That spirit of homegrown energy and innovation continues today as natural gas leads the way.
The United States is the top producer of natural gas in the world. In my home state of Oklahoma, we are proud to be part of that revolution. Oklahoma is the fifth-largest natural gas producing state in the country, with nearly 350,000 jobs in the state tied to natural gas production. Natural gas is a critical part of Oklahoma’s economy, as it is to the entire nation.
But there is more to be done, and much that is being left on the table. When the current House Republican Majority took control of this chamber, we committed to unleashing America’s energy potential. Today, we take a critical step forward, as the House takes up H.R. 1130.
This measure will streamline the permitting process for new liquid natural gas, or LNG, export and import facilities. All too often, proposed new LNG facilities are tied up for years in regulatory red tape. H.R. 1130 will make it easier, cheaper, and quicker to bring such new facilities online. The result is a strong future for our nation. One where we can export more natural gas to our friends and allies around the world, create more jobs at home, and ensure that the United States remains energy-independent now and into the future.
Finally, today’s hearing also covers House Resolution 684, which condemns the Governor of New Mexico for her attempt to subvert the Second Amendment and deprive the citizens of New Mexico of their right to bear arms. As members are aware, on September 8th, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order that purported to take away the right of New Mexicans to open or conceal carry firearms. The Governor alleged this was necessary due to a public health emergency.
Of course, that claim is absurd. There is no “public health emergency” exception to constitutional rights, and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise. A constitutional right is just that – a right – and it cannot be subverted at the whim of an elected official. Last week, a federal judge in New Mexico agreed and issued a restraining order putting a stop to this unconstitutional action.
Governor Lujan Grisham has rightly received condemnation on a bipartisan basis for her actions, and this week members of the House will have the opportunity to do so officially. I urge all members to join in voting to condemn this unconstitutional and illegal attempt to suppress the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.