Weekly Update: Congress faces budget decision
Dear Friends -
It's spring time in Washington and that means you can count on two things: the cherry blossoms returning to bloom and Congress renewing the budget and appropriations process.
The season always kicks off with the release of the president's budget, which serves as a recommendation to Congress. The House and Senate Budget Committees then produce budget resolutions of their own that, if passed, guide the Appropriations Committee in drafting the 12 actual spending bills that fund federal agencies and programs. Those bills come to the House floor for an up or down vote. This process, known as regular order, is how budgets and spending bills should be considered and enacted. But recently that has not been the case.
In fact, for the past eight years, the federal government has been primarily funded by what are known as continuing resolutions or "CRs." These bills simply fund the government at the previous year's overall top line spending figure, denying federal agencies, particularly the Department of Defense, the certainty needed to operate effectively.
The current CR runs out on April 28th. This means Congress has a choice to make: either do the work we were all sent here to do and pass a proper spending bill or kick the can down the road and pass another CR.
My view is as simple as the choice we face: a CR would be a non-starter for me because of the damage another CR would do to our military readiness and national security.
In the House Armed Services Committee we have heard from our nation's top military leaders and their message is clear - we cannot afford another CR. Here are some of the specifics they've shared with the Committee:
Expected pay will be cut and deployments will be announced last minute, which will cause serious disruption to military families.
A year-long CR will force the military to cancel the induction of thousands of service members.
Even war fighters deploying around the world will be denied the training they need to accomplish their mission safely. It is impossible to make up for deferred training.
Squadrons will stop flying and ships will stop sailing: Years of defense cuts have reduced aircraft and ship availability, leaving the military ill-equipped to absorb more cuts without operational impact.
We will do lasting damage to military readiness: The services, already struggling to maintain a ready force with insufficient resources, will be unable to avert lasting damage to the military.
And that is the condensed list.
Clearly, the damage that will be done by another CR would put our servicemen and women in danger and do real harm to our national security. That is not a consequence I can accept and so I will vote against a CR of any length.
I am pushing to ensure Congress does the difficult work of governing and makes the tough choices necessary to successfully complete the budget and appropriations process. In fact, I again introduced a bill that says if Congress doesn't pass a budget, Members of Congress should not collect a paycheck.
If you have thoughts or concerns about the budget and appropriations process that you'd like to share, I encourage you to email me. Your thoughts and feedback help me better represent you in Congress.
It's an honor to serve you and Virginia's First District in the People's House.
P.S. The Daily Press covered an event where I shared more thoughts on the upcoming budget debate and you can read that article by clicking here.