Leahy Statement On The 150th Anniversary Of The Appropriations Committee

 Thank you Chairman Cochran and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, for gathering us here today with the former and current members and staff of the committee, and Senate Historian Betty Koed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  I also want to welcome to the former chair, Senator Mikulski, the only woman in the history of the Senate to chair this committee and the longest serving woman in the history of Congress. 

Established on March 6, 1867, its powers are rooted in Article 1, section 9 of our Constitution which states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”  The Founders recognized the power of the purse as one of the most important tools Congress has to ensure our system of checks and balances, and to conduct oversight of the Executive and Judicial Branch.  But it is much more than that.  The Appropriations Committee is where we translate the priorities of a nation into the realities of the people. 

Our country is not a business, where we allocate resources only according to the bottom line.  We do not invest in order to make a profit, or a one-for-one dollar in return.  We invest in those areas where it is uniquely right for government to take the lead.  We invest in the areas that make a difference in the everyday lives of Americans and that help build the foundations of our country and our economy — infrastructure, national security, our environment, education, science and research, health care. 

The Appropriations Committee is where we fund nutrition programs to ensure that children do not have to sit through class hungry and remain healthy so they can develop and grow.  It is where we allocate the resources to clean our lakes and our streams and make investments in growing our communities and promoting jobs.  It is where we invest in research to cure cancer.  It’s where we can define who we are as country. 

I was appointed to the Appropriations Committee nearly 40 years ago as the then Junior Senator from the great state of Vermont.  I joined the Appropriations Committee because it was, and still is, a Committee where we don’t just talk about what should be done, we do it.  This Committee is not about making headlines or relitigating our partisan differences. We are here to do the work of the American people.  That is a unique privilege, and one I am proud to share with Chairman Cochran and the members of this committee. 

In its 150 year history, only five other Vermonters have served on the Appropriations Committee.  I am proud to be the first Vermonter to serve as its Vice Chairman, and I feel honored to join in the storied ranks of its leaders and join you all today in celebrating 150 years of an institution that is at the foundation of the Senate. 

I look forward to working with my friend Chairman Cochran in continuing the long and bipartisan history of the Appropriations Committee in the months and years ahead. 

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