Washington, D.C—Today, Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal with Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell. At the hearing, Murray addressed proposals in the President’s budget, discussed the importance of the two-year budget agreement Congress approved in December, and called on Congress to build on that deal and focus on creating jobs, opportunities, and economic growth, while tackling the deficit and debt fairly and responsibly.
Key Excerpts From Senator Murray’s Opening Statement:
“…one of the many benefits of the two-year budget deal is that we have agreement on a bipartisan spending level for 2015. That will enable Congress and the administration to complete our appropriations work on a timely basis this year.”
“…critically, because it was a two-year deal, it set budget levels for fiscal year 2015, which allows the Appropriations Committees to get to work with a bipartisan spending level. That gives families and communities across the country the budget certainty they deserve.”
“Nobody thinks our two-year budget deal was perfect. It was a compromise. And nobody thinks it was the end of the story, of course it’s not. Now let’s work together to build on that two-year budget deal—not re-litigate it. Let’s take the opportunity we have here in a Congress, finally freed from manufactured crises, and let’s invest in jobs, broad-based economic growth, and opportunities for our families and communities.”
“Our deficit is on the path to shrink by about one-third of what it was five years ago. And while we absolutely need to tackle our long-term deficit and debt challenges fairly and responsibly, we now have some breathing room to focus on the other deficits facing our country, like our deficits in jobs, innovation, infrastructure, and education.”
“The President’s budget is a strong proposal for a long-term plan to build on our two-year budget deal, create jobs and broad-based growth, and expand opportunities for families and communities across the country. Congress proved in December that when we work together on a budget we can invest in our priorities and reduce the deficit—and I am hoping that Republicans will join us once again to continue that work.
Full Text Of Senator Murray’s Opening Statement:
“This hearing will now come to order.
“Welcome everyone. I would like to thank Ranking Member Sessions and our colleagues for joining us this morning. And a special thank you to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
“Ms. Burwell, it has been nearly one year ago that you were before this Committee when we considered your nomination. You’ve been doing a great job since then, during some tough times, and I am pleased to have you back here before us.
“In a short few months, we had a government shutdown in October, followed by the two-year budget deal in December. And the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations process was not finished until January. So, the President’s budget proposal is understandably a few weeks later than you would have hoped.
“But one of the many benefits of the two-year budget deal is that we have agreement on a bipartisan spending level for 2015.
“That will enable Congress and the administration to complete our appropriations work on a timely basis this year.
“We are going to be discussing the President’s 2015 budget proposal today. But I want to take a minute or two to talk about how we got here, and what we can do to build on what we’ve done.
“For far too long, Congress has been lurching from one budget crisis to the next.
“It was hurting American families, devastating our economy, and eroding the trust of the American people in their government. But at the end of last year, Chairman Ryan and I finally sat down to negotiate in a budget conference.
“We both knew we weren’t going to get everything we wanted. But we also knew the country was looking to us to make some compromises and show that this government could function—that our democracy could work.
“So, working closely with many of our colleagues on the Budget Committees, we got to work.
“We put ideas on the table. We made some tough compromises. We focused on what was attainable. We put partisanship aside. And we reached a deal.
“Our bipartisan two-year budget passed with overwhelming support in the Senate and House, and was signed into law by President Obama in December.
“It rolled back some of the most damaging cuts from sequestration. It prevented government shutdowns in January and October of this year. It set spending levels for fiscal year 2014.
“And critically, because it was a two-year deal, it set budget levels for fiscal year 2015, which allows the Appropriations Committees to get to work with a bipartisan spending level.
“That gives families and communities across the country the budget certainty they deserve.
“I give Chairman Ryan a lot of credit for his work on our two-year budget, along with the many Republicans and Democrats who worked with us on it and supported it.
“Nobody thinks our two-year budget deal was perfect. It was a compromise. And nobody thinks it was the end of the story, of course it’s not.
“Now let’s work together to build on that two-year budget deal—not re-litigate it.
“Let’s take the opportunity we have here in a Congress, finally freed from manufactured crises, and let’s invest in jobs, broad-based economic growth, and opportunities for our families and communities.
“There has been $3.3 trillion of deficit reduction done over the last few years. And it is more than $4 trillion if you include all of the savings from sequestration.
“Our deficit is on the path to shrink by about one-third of what it was five years ago. And while we absolutely need to tackle our long-term deficit and debt challenges fairly and responsibly, we now have some breathing room to focus on the other deficits facing our country, like our deficits in jobs, innovation, infrastructure, and education.
“That is why I am very glad that today we are here to discuss the President’s budget proposal that would build on our bipartisan two-year budget in exactly this way.
“One important way this budget proposal would build on our two-year budget deal is through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that would further invest in priorities like manufacturing and research and development, military readiness, education, and job training.
“The initiative would invest equally in defense and nondefense priorities. And it would fully offset the cost of these additional investments in a balanced and responsible way—very much in the spirit of our bipartisan budget deal.
“Like every proposal in the President’s budget, we would need a bipartisan agreement to build on the two-year budget in place right now that will guide the work of the Appropriations Committee this year.
“I truly hope Republicans are willing to join us at the table once again to continue this critical work of investing in jobs and our security in a balanced and fiscally responsible way.
“I want to briefly mention just a few of the many strong proposals in the President’s budget that I am hoping to hear more about today.
“I was very glad to see that this budget maintains the commitment to a national preschool initiative.
“Expanding preschool would not only help our youngest children and pay dividends in future economic growth. It would also empower millions of women who would be able to go to work and give back to their communities.
“I am also pleased to see that this budget proposal would invest in a skilled health care workforce with clinical training for community health programs. It would strengthen the National Service Corps. And it would increase the number of medical residents for primary care, among other initiatives.
“This is an important step to ensure families across the country get the care they need. And it’s something that should get strong bipartisan support.
“I’m also very glad to see that the budget calls for a reform of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers.
“The EITC lifts millions of low-income working families out of poverty each year, but it’s currently leaving individuals without children behind. Boosting the credit for this segment of the population would further incentivize work, and increase economic opportunity for more Americans.
“The President’s budget also includes a plan to reauthorize our surface transportation programs for four years.
“It would boost infrastructure funding. And it would address expected shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund. This would allow for much-needed investments in our aging infrastructure that will help commuters and businesses, and create jobs for countless Americans.
“The budget proposal pays for these investments with the temporary revenue boost that would come during the transition to a fairer and more competitive corporate tax system.
“This is a fiscally responsible approach to corporate tax reform. And Chairman Camp included a similar proposal to shore up the Highway Trust Fund in the tax reform plan he released last week.
“So I think Congress should take a close look at this idea.
“On the individual side of the tax code, the President’s budget would generate revenue for deficit reduction by eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in back-door spending that benefits the wealthiest individuals who need it the least.
“These reforms would increase the efficiency of our tax system, and make our tax code fairer to middle class families.
“I am very glad the President has taken a balanced approach with this budget proposal.
“This is the approach that the vast majority of the American people support. It’s fiscally responsible. And it’s the right thing to do.
“Our tax code is riddled with wasteful loopholes and special-interest carve-outs. And it would be unfair and unacceptable to ignore every last one of them, while calling on seniors and families to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone.
“The budget also capitalizes on the savings from declining health care costs. In the past few years, health care costs have grown more slowly than at any other time period since the mid-1960s. I’m glad the President’s proposal builds on the savings from this decline.
“The President’s proposal also upholds immigration reform as a way to tackle our long-term deficits.
“In July of last year, the Congressional Budget Office found that immigration reform would significantly reduce the deficit over the next 20 years. And it would also expand the labor force.
“Passing comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do for families. It’s good for the economy. And it’s good for our long-term budget outlook.
“Finally, I want to note that the President’s budget this year does not include Chained CPI, a proposal pushed by Republicans that was included as a compromise offer in his budget last year.
“I personally believe there are better ways to create jobs, grow the economy, and tackle our long-term fiscal challenges than this policy, and I am glad it was not included this year.
“The President’s budget is a strong proposal for a long-term plan to build on our two-year budget deal, create jobs and broad-based growth, and expand opportunities for families and communities across the country.
“Congress proved in December that when we work together on a budget we can invest in our priorities and reduce the deficit—and I am hoping that Republicans will join us once again to continue that work.
“Before we ask our witness for her testimony, I’d like to now turn to the Ranking Member, Senator Sessions, for his opening remarks.”