Weekly Update: It’s Time to Make the Tough Decisions
Every American understands the pains of budgeting. Each financial decision takes forethought, planning, and tough decisions. I’ve spent hours huddled around my kitchen table, like many First District families, crunching numbers and working through spreadsheets, and how to put my family in the best place going forward. To me, budgeting is really all about being intentional with where one’s money goes in order to achieve a goal – maybe it’s paying off a student loan, saving for a down payment on a house, or putting away money for retirement. Although it shouldn’t, Congress operates differently.
Which is why in 1974, Congress reinforced its constitutional authority over federal spending decisions by passing the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. This legislation established the House and Senate Budget Committees, the two committees responsible for creating a budget resolution each year.
A budget resolution is more than just a spending break down, it is a policy agenda for lawmakers that provides a roadmap for considering spending legislation and addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges. While the budget it not signed into law by the president, it is still an enforceable, binding agreement for both chambers.
Drafting a budget is about setting priorities, allocating resources, and making tough choices. A failure to do so is a failure to govern, especially at a time when our nation’s debt has exceeded $22 trillion and our deficits are nearing $1 trillion. Drafting a budget is the chief responsibility of the Budget Committee and critical to Congress maintaining its “power of the purse.”
However, House Democrats are unlikely to even write and introduce a budget resolution, citing major divisions in their caucus on where to allocate money for programs.
I am the first person to say that our budgeting system is broken, but it is absolutely unacceptable that the House leadership isn’t even willing to start the conversation. This is no way to govern and definitely not the way to get back on the track of fiscal responsibility. That is why I have made reforming our broken budget process one of my top priorities as your representative.
We need to put the proper accountability checks in place to avoid this abdication of this responsibility, but also to ensure we stay on track to get our funding bills passed on time to avoid a continuing resolution or shutdown. There is absolutely no reason we should not be able to get a budget passed on time and finish all of our appropriations work by the end of the fiscal year.
I have three bills to achieve this: the No Budget No Pay Act that withholds Member pay if a budget isn’t passed by April 15, the Stay on Schedule Resolution that requires the House to stay in session through August – which many Members use as vacation – if all appropriations bills are not passed by the end of July, and finally the Inaction Has Consequences Act that withholds Member pay if all 12 appropriations bills are not done by the end of the fiscal year.
The first deadline – April 15 – is around the corner. My hope is that my colleagues across the aisle will reevaluate their decision to push off their responsibilities, make the tough choices, and do the work of the nation.