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After eight painful years under the failed policies of former President Obama, during which the United States’ national debt nearly doubled, wages stagnated, workforce participation dropped and remained near historic lows throughout a historically weak economic recovery, many Americans did not feel what little recovery there was.  America’s economic growth remains well below the level it could be.  The failures of the Obama legacy and their harmful effects of his administration’s policies are still being felt by many Americans – especially low-income and middle class families.  Small business start-ups – the engines of growth and the backbone of our economy – have suffered, and as a result opportunities have been too few for too many.  But after years of bad policies, Americans have rejected a Washington-centered vision and chosen a better way.  

With a unified Republican government working to enact an opportunity and growth-focused agenda, economic optimism is back on the rise, and there is great reason to believe that America is in the beginning stages of a dramatic comeback.  Limited government, a less burdensome tax code and regulatory environment, fiscal sanity and safety net programs that move people from welfare to work – the agenda being pursued by President Trump and Republicans in Congress – will allow Americans to grow the economy in the private sector.  By allowing hardworking people of our great country to keep more of their paychecks, creating an environment where business of all sizes can comfortably hire and invest in their own product to boost wages, families and young adults can finally plan for their futures with confidence.

The fiscal situation in Washington poses a long term threat to our future, and I believe elected leaders – regardless of political party – have an obligation to be honest with our fellow citizens about the seriousness and size of the fiscal challenges our nation faces, and the need to tackle these problems before they tackle us.  Turnarounds of the magnitude our nation needs take time – and the path to a more secure and prosperous future will not be easy.  That said, we are headed in the right direction.

Building A Better America: The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 House Budget Resolution

It has been more than eight years since the financial crisis rocked our nation's economy, but the fiscal challenges our nation still faces are innumerable.  Economic growth is underwhelming, paychecks cannot keep up with rising costs, Americans’ jobs continue to be shipped overseas due to our uncompetitive tax code, regulatory environment and looming fiscal crisis in coming years.  Far too many students continue to struggle with massively increasing tuition costs, and millions of hardworking taxpayers are seeing their medical costs continue to skyrocket as a result of President Obama's failed health care law.

Each year, after the President has submits a budget request to Congress, and each chamber reviews this request before drafting their own proposal.  On July 18, 2017, the House Budget Committee released its own Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution: “Building a Better America – A Plan for Fiscal Responsibility.”  This budget reflects our first principles – freedom, free enterprise, and a government accountable to the people it serves.  It is a budget that will help grow our economy and rein in our national debt.  It strengthens our national defense and supports our men and women in uniform.  It eliminates endless, mindless spending and it maximizes Americans’ tax dollars.  It reforms Medicaid strengthens Medicare and ensures its existence for future generations, and it keeps our responsibilities to our children and our grandchildren. 

Unlike an appropriations bill, a budget resolution is not submitted to the President to be signed in law.  A budget resolution is, however, the only legislation that views the federal government as a whole, and therefore has an indelibly important impact on the policy agenda in Congress.  As such, it serves to resolve any conflicting judgments about our national priorities, and it helps reconcile divergent views of our country's future.  Ultimately, a budget resolution is more than a list of numbers – it’s an expression of our governing philosophy.

After years of unsustainable deficits and ballooning debt, this plan would balance the federal budget within ten years without raising taxes.  It accomplishes this by reducing spending, reforming government agencies and programs, and providing an environment for economic growth.  It proposes reforms to duplicative and ineffective federal anti-poverty programs that would place the emphasis on outcomes – not inputs – and those who are struggling their dignity back by empowering them to move from welfare to work.  Our budget returns power to the states, providing the laboratories of democracy with the flexibility to innovate to meet their unique needs coupled with increased accountability for results. 

The House budget also assumed the health reforms and taxpayers savings that would be achieved if the American Health Care Act were to become law.  The AHCA is the House-passed legislation to repeal and replace the ongoing disaster of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The results are in, and the ACA has cost millions of hardworking taxpayers their insurance and spends trillions of dollars that we do not have.  It must be repealed and replaced with patient-centered reforms.  Should you be interested in learning more about this proposal, you may visit my health care issue page here.

On October 5, 2017, this measure came before the House in the form of H. Con. Res. 71, a concurrent budget resolution that establishes the Congressional budget for FY 2018 and sets forth appropriate budgetary levels for the FY 2019 – 2027 period, and was passed by a vote of 219 to 206.  H. Con. Res. 71 reflects our founding principles: freedom, free enterprise, and a government accountable to the people it serves.  The budget resolution establishes a path to a balanced budget through restrained spending, reduction in taxes, and economic growth.  It also unlocks reconciliation, an expedited legislative procedure that can only be triggered by the adoption of a concurrent budget resolution.  After action in the Senate, H. Con. Res. 71 returned to the House and on October 26, 2017, it was passed by a vote of 216 to 212.  I voted in favor of final passage. 

Like a family or business, the federal government must set a limit on what it can spend.  Each year, Congress must pass a budget, Congress must pass appropriations bills legislation to fund the operations of the federal government, a task that can be made especially difficult during divided government, as was the case prior to the election of President Trump.

Unfortunately, the rules of the Senate have allowed Democrats in that chamber to obstruct the business of funding the government.  This has required a series a short-term spending bills to keep the government open. 

To be perfectly clear: Republicans do not want to use continuing resolutions to fund the government.  That is why the House has made it a priority for spending bills to go through regular order. But ultimately, for regular order to work, the Senate has to do its job.  For the Senate to be able to do its job, it means that Senate Democrats cannot filibuster the spending bills that the House sends its way.  This is not a partisan opinion but rather a simple statement of fact about the process by which bills become law our constitution.

It also worth noting the facts about the list of major spending bills that the House has passed that are currently sitting in the Senate all because Senate Democrats threaten to filibuster them, making passage impossible:

  • July 27, 2017: The House passed a defense package, or the ‘Security Minibus,’ to address key national security priorities, including rebuilding our military and taking care of our veterans.

  • September 14, 2017: The House passed all 12 appropriations bills on time as part of the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act.

  • December 21, 2017: The House passed an additional disaster relief funding measure.

  • January 18, 2018: The House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government, und the government through February 16th and fully reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years.  This bill was filibustered in the Senate, forcing an unnecessary government shutdown.

Moving forward, I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and the President to reach a long-term funding agreement. 

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