Imagine your most recent trip to the grocery store. If you’re like me you have a list and maybe some coupons from the Sunday paper or the store discount card. At the checkout we pay for our bill and if we don’t have the right amount of money we prioritize what our family needs and put something back that is not so important. This is a basic financial responsibility and Washington still needs to learn this fundamental obligation.
Washington has a spending problem. The runaway spending is hamstringing economic growth and creating a sluggish economy. With a national debt of almost $17 trillion we are paying our bills on the backs of future generations. This is unacceptable, irresponsible and unsustainable. That’s why we need policies that grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. Slowly, we are making progress.
In 2011 Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) to simultaneously address federal spending and the debt ceiling. In an effort to cut Washington’s spending by a trillion dollars, President Obama proposed and agreed to the spending caps set out in this legislation. As a result of the BCA, for the first time since the end of the Korean War we have reduced federal spending for two consecutive years.
We need to continue this progress. That’s why I supported legislation that allows us time to focus on further budget negotiations and work toward significant spending cuts while reopening the government and avoiding a default on paying the bills our nation already owes. It also paves the way for the House and Senate to convene a budget conference to resolve our larger fiscal issues. Bringing members from both chambers together to negotiate a framework for spending is good for our nation’s fiscal health and is an important step to moving back towards regular order in the budgeting and appropriations process.
It’s important for us to get back to the way the Senate was designed to work with a committee hearing on bills before coming to the floor for a vote. We’ve seen this process bypassed too often as Congress waits until a deadline to pass critical legislation.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, we did the necessary work, holding hearings and discussions about what programs should be funded and at what level. We need to work within the framework set by the BCA for long-term planning and outlining how taxpayer dollars are spent. This proper process is necessary so we can avoid future government shutdowns.
Governing by crisis has become too common. We need to eliminate the approach that takes away our ability to pass sound policies while eliminating the waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. By returning to regular order and taking a serious look at our long-term fiscal policies, we can continue to rein in spending and build a solid foundation for a healthy fiscal future.