Weekly Update: Now is the Time
By Congressman Rob Wittman
July 17, 2018
The 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 has been shirking these duties for a long time, but Congress has an opportunity this year to complete its work.
If our nation is not secure, we can achieve little else and every year, through the House Armed Services Committee, we pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes the dollars to be used for our nation’s defense. However, we now must appropriate those funds accordingly.
The world is an increasingly dangerous place and, having assessed those threats, we must now provide the funding necessary to ensure we can defeat our adversaries and keep America safe. A few weeks ago, the House took the first steps towards just that by passing the Department of Defense Appropriations Act by a strong bipartisan margin. This defense bill includes funding that will allow the United States to rebuild our military readiness and our Navy's Fleet. Appropriately, the bill also funds the pay raise our troops deserve, supporting the men and women in uniform tasked with meeting our security challenges. Given the threats we face around the world, passing this funding bill sends a strong signal that we are dedicated to the safety and security of all Americans, the well-being of our economy, and the men and women who protect our great nation.
It is critical that Congress complete this legislation in order to avoid another harmful continuing resolution (CR). As I have continuously said throughout my time in Congress and have heard from top military leaders, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, CRs not only waste money but are a broken promise and that chips away at our service members’ ability to survive. We are finally getting our readiness back on track and providing our service members with the resources they desperately need. We cannot afford to stop now – we must continue to provide reliable funding to support those who are putting their lives on the line to ensure our freedoms.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act is the fourth appropriations bill the House has passed for the Fiscal Year 2019, meaning there are still eight to complete before the deadline on September 30, 2018. Over and over again, I hear how people are frustrated with what is going on in Washington. They see Congress budgeting by crisis, missing important legislative deadlines, and engaging in partisan bickering. Folks continually say that we need to bring some more accountability to government.
I couldn’t agree more. For years I have been leading the fight to reform Congress. While it may not be popular here, I believe members of Congress need to get their work done and be held accountable if they don’t. I sent a letter to Speaker Ryan that says, he should implement my Stay on Schedule Act bill that would require if we don’t finish all 12 appropriations bills by July 31, Congress stays in town until we do. The Senate has already committed to staying in Washington an extra three weeks in August, and I urged the Speaker that if we don’t complete our work, we should do the same.
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 must complete these funding bills on time and stop this harmful pattern of CRs.