Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 4366, S.J. Res. 9, and S.J. Res. 24

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. Responsible governance is a core pillar of the Republican Commitment to America. Today, the Rules Committee will continue to deliver on that promise by ensuring fiscal responsibility and addressing executive agency abuses with three measures.

The first I’ll discuss is essential to upholding both the constitutional and sacred obligations of Congress. H.R. 4366, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024, will fulfill our Article I responsibilities and honor the service of America’s heroes: our veterans.

This appropriations bill provides robust funding for critical health care, benefits, and service programs for the brave men and women who selflessly served our nation. It invests in the well-being of veterans, VA medical centers, and our national security.

I want to reiterate that this legislation fully funds health care for our nation’s veterans, ensuring those who fought for our freedom get the care they need and deserve. It also provides nearly one billion dollars in funding for military construction above the President’s budget request, with a focus on investments in military housing and other quality of life projects to provide support for military families.

By prioritizing spending to focus on these priorities – not radical left-wing schemes like critical race theory and contentious “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs – we are targeting resources to make the greatest impact for those who have worn the uniform.

Targeted investments are crucial in our constrained fiscal environment. As a member of this committee and an appropriator, our mounting debts and deficits are of great alarm. It’s a concern that has only grown as the Biden Administration has pushed an agenda of wild and out-of-control spending. Democrat-led, partisan spending has resulted in our nation racking up multi-trillion deficits in both 2021 and 2022. Those numbers might be hard for most to conceptualize—but the results are not. Every American has felt the impact of the worst inflationary crisis in forty years, and a federal debt that continues to spiral out of control. Hardworking middle-class Americans are paying the price of this irresponsible spending spree.

It’s exactly why the bill before us eliminates wasteful spending without sacrificing the needs of our veterans and military. With H.R. 4366, we are both delivering for our heroes and charting a responsible fiscal path forward. I expect robust debate on this bill in today’s hearing and look forward to a strong amendment process.

Our two additional items today are joint resolutions arising under the Congressional Review Act that address concerns of Biden Administration overreach under the Endangered Species Act that is hurting American farmers, ranchers, and other landowners. These measures previously passed the Senate and only need to pass the House to go to the President’s desk.

Specifically, Senate Joint Resolution 9 disapproves of a rule listing two population segments of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as endangered and threatened, and Senate Joint Resolution 24 disapproves of a rule up-listing the Northern Long-Eared Bat as endangered. The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken has had a serious impact on my home state of Oklahoma, while the listing of the Northern Long-Eared Bat impacts thirty-seven states where the species may theoretically be found.

As with the Waters of the United States rule, the common theme of much of the Biden Administration’s environmental regulations is expansion. At every turn, the administration seeks to expand the scope of environmental laws and to give in to environmental activists. The end result is to force private landowners to shoulder heavier burdens and to tie up development projects with more red tape. Even in circumstances where there are successful voluntary conservation efforts being managed at the state and local level, as is the case with both the lesser prairie chicken and the northern long-eared bat, these efforts are not enough for the Biden White House.

Rather than imposing heavy-handed one-size-fits-all requirements from Washington, we would be better served to allow successful conservation efforts to continue. Passage of these two resolutions will do just that.


Jul 25, 2023