Weekly Update: Process Makes Perfect
By Rep. Rob Wittman
March 31, 2018
The Constitution’s Appropriations Clause is the cornerstone to what we in Congress refer to as “the power of the purse.” Article I of the Constitution clearly states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Congress exercised that power just days ago.
Last week, Congress passed a funding bill that included all 12 appropriations bills. Appropriations bill lay out exactly how money in our nation’s budget will be used. As you know, the final text of this bill was given to lawmakers only 16 hours before voting took place. This is NOT the way we should be consider such important legislation.
However, it is important to note that this was not the first time we’ve seen spending bill text. Back in September, for the first time since 2009, the House passed all 12 appropriations bills through regular order; that included 12 full committee markups. There were over 1000 amendments proposed by both Republicans and Democrats, and after sixty-five hours of debate, we completed discussion and voted on the 340 that were made in order. That omnibus package passed the House and sat waiting in the Senate.
The funding package we voted on last week was largely based on those twelve appropriations bills we passed in September. The new omnibus included many First District and conservative priorities I have been working for. This bill preserves Chesapeake Bay funding, provides money for border security, supports our veterans, and increases access to broadband in rural areas.
Most importantly, this omnibus fully funds our Armed Forces. Because of this legislation, we are rebuilding our American military and creating a 21st century fighting force. The threat of American military decline is now coming to an end. That is a promise that Congress, along with this president, made to the American people. This funding bill keeps that promise.
I have long advocated that the House completes our spending bills on time, which includes staying through August if our work is unfinished and withholding Member’s salaries until a budget can be passed. I will be the first to admit that reforming how Congress works will take time—but the longest of journeys must begin with a single step. I believe bringing accountability to the budget and appropriations process should be our priority.
We have a lot of work to do to get Washington’s spending habits under control, so that we do not burden future generations. I believe addressing our auto-pilot spending programs will be critical to protecting our nation’s long-term fiscal health. As we move forward into the FY19 budget and appropriations process, I will be working tirelessly to get our spending on the right path.