U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. House of Representatives

Budget

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The economy’s uncertainty continues to be a drag on job creation in Southern Wisconsin and the state’s unemployment rate remains high at 6.1 percent.  The fiscal situation in Washington has not been helpful to our nation’s economy.  Some in Washington are calling for tax increases.  The last thing our local communities need right now is a tax increase.  It will make it tougher for hard-working families to make ends meet.  And stand in the way of allowing Wisconsin small businesses to maintain or create new jobs.  Rather than increase taxes, Washington needs to stop spending money it doesn’t have and stop taking out more loans to pay for that spending.  Both side of the aisle need to work together to get spending under control and prevent tax increases.

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013

The federal government, like any other business or household, must each year have a budget. In the absence of a year-long budget, the House and Senate must approve short-term spending bills known as "continuing resolutions" to keep the federal government operational. 

On October 15, 2013, Senator Patty Murray and I stood up in our respective chambers to offer a motion to create a bicameral conference committee to negotiate a federal budget by December 13, 2013.  Rather than continuing the trend of budgeting by brinkmanship with short-term spending bills, Senator Murray and I recognized the need for long-term bipartisan solutions to our nation’s most pressing fiscal problems.  On October 16, 2013, the motion to go to conference was adopted by unanimous consent in the House and Senate.

When entering the negotiations, there were three criteria I used to evaluate all provisions of the deal.  First and foremost, the deal must not raise taxes.  The last thing already financially-strapped individuals and families need is another tax increase.  Second, the deal must not increase the deficit.  At a time when our national debt is greater than $17 trillion, Congress should not appropriate one dollar without vigorous and diligent oversight.  Third, the deal must stop Washington from lurching crisis to crisis.  Our economy needs stability that will build confidence, and that confidence will help spur job creation.

After nearly two months of deliberations among the members of the bicameral conference committee, Senator Patty Murray and I introduced the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 on December 10, 2013.  This is the first time since 1986 that a divided Congress has produced a bipartisan budget resolution.  The Bipartisan Budget Act will provide $63 billion in sequester relief—split evenly between defense programs and other domestic priorities—in exchange for over $80 billion in savings elsewhere in the budget, resulting in over $20 billion in deficit reduction, all without raising taxes.  Additionally, it preserves 92 percent of the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester cuts, or approximately $770 billion of the original BCA sequester savings, but does so by cutting spending in a smarter way.  It eliminates waste by ending the distribution of government checks to criminals and the deceased, puts an end to favoritism by cutting corporate welfare, and it makes real reforms to some of the true problems of autopilot spending.  And, it will also prevent another government shutdown this year.

The Bipartisan Budget Act came before the House for a vote on December 12, 2013, and was passed by a vote of 332 to 94.  I was encouraged that my colleagues from both parties voted in favor of this budget agreement instead of continuing down the same unsustainable path and risking another federal government shutdown.

Once Congress approves a budget resolution, then the congressional appropriations process can advance.  The budget resolution sets the overall spending and revenue levels, while appropriations legislation—typically divided up into twelve individual bills—dictates how much funding will be spent on the various programs spread across the federal government.  Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are responsible for developing these appropriations bills for each fiscal year.  Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees had until January 18, 2014 to develop appropriations legislation for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  Because of this shortened time frame, House and Senate appropriators opted to use an omnibus spending bill—a bill that funds many departments of the government at once-- rather than twelve individual bills.

With the Bipartisan Budget Agreement signed into law, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees introduced the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill on January 14, 2014.  This legislation would combine the twelve individual spending bills that typically fund programs within the federal government at the level consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act.  It would also ensure that medically retired armed forces personnel and survivor benefit plan recipients receive their full pensions.  Additionally, it provides no new or additional funding for the Affordable Care Act—commonly referred to as Obamacare.  It was passed in the House on January 15, 2014—with my support—by a vote of 359 to 67.  On January 16, 2014, it was passed by the Senate, and on January 17, 2014, President Obama signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill into law.

While I will continue to support legislation that reforms the tax code and helps pay off the debt, the fact is that we have a divided government.  And in a divided government, no one will get precisely what they want.  Although the Bipartisan Budget Act and the Omnibus Appropriations Bill are not without flaws, both represent a firm step in the right direction.  Most importantly, these laws show how Washington can live within its means and make divided government work.

President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

On March 4, 2014, one month after the statutory deadline, the President submitted to Congress his budget request for fiscal year 2015.   Before he submitted his budget request to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that the deficit will start to grow again in just two years.  By 2022, we will be running trillion-dollar deficits again – even though we will be taking in a historically large share of revenue.  That’s because spending will grow twice as much as revenue.  So over the next ten years, we will add $10 trillion more to our national debt – for a grand total of $27 trillion.

At a time when we need to control government spending, unfortunately, the President’s budget for fiscal year 2015 would increase spending, increase taxes and weaken economic growth.  Specifically, below are key facts on the President’s budget proposal:

  • The President’s budget increases spending by $791 billion over the budget window and $56 billion in 2015, above the Bipartisan Budget Agreement reached earlier this year between Senator Murray and myself.  His budget will increase total spending by 63 percent from today’s levels over the budget window.

  • The President’s budget never balances.  It would add $8.3 trillion to the debt over the budget window and the cumulative deficits would amount to $5 trillion.  The gross debt would climb to $25 trillion in 2024.

  • The President has already increased taxes by $1.7 trillion.  Now, under his budget for fiscal year 2015, his budget would add another $1.8 trillion on top of that.  Roughly half of the new tax hikes would be dedicated to new spending rather than deficit reduction.

I am disappointed with the President’s budget.  We have to fix our spending problem before it is too late.  Instead of building on the bipartisan progress Congress made earlier this year, the President’s budget undoes the bipartisan agreement.  The President’s budget does nothing to preserve or strengthen our entitlements.  In divided government, we need leadership and collaboration but, the President’s budget is missed opportunity to provide what our country needs.

Hardworking families, who are struggling to make ends meet and pay their taxes, deserve alternatives and detailed solutions from their elected representative.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to put forward detailed alternatives so we can build upon the bipartisan budget agreement and address the fiscal challenges facing our country. 

Additional Information

Washington, DC Office
  • 1233 Longworth House Office Bldg
  • Washington, DC 20515
  • Phone: (202) 225-3031
  • Fax: (202) 225-3393
Janesville Office
20 South Main Street
Phone: (608) 752-4050
Suite 10
Fax: (608) 752-4711
Janesville, WI 53545
Toll Free: (888) 909-RYAN (7926)
Kenosha Office
5031 7th Avenue
Phone: (262) 654-1901
Kenosha, WI 53140
Fax: (262) 654-2156
Racine Office
216 6th Street
Phone: (262) 637-0510
Racine, WI 53403
Fax: (262) 637-5689
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