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Another Spending Showdown

September 25, 2007
Weekly Columns

At the end of this month, the government will reach its annual deadline to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. Here in the House of Representatives, we have passed all twelve of the required appropriations bills. On the Senate side, however, they have only passed four. To make matters worse, some of the appropriations bills that have been passed are so full of wasteful, pork-barrel spending, that the President has wisely vowed to veto them. I look forward to voting to uphold those vetoes and force Congress to come back and pass funding requests that stay within the budget.

Congress's failure to pass appropriations bills could theoretically lead to a government shutdown in October. However, Congress will likely solve this problem with a stop-gap measure known as a continuing resolution. This will allow the government to continue to operate based on current spending levels, thereby avoiding such a shut down. But this is, unfortunately, a short term solution and not the permanent change in spending philosophy that the taxpayers deserve from their elected officials. It is likely that the continuing resolution will be offered in the upcoming week. I believe that this bill should be clean and in-line with last year’s spending level without any unnecessary, last-minute special-funding requests.

While the continuing resolution will prevent a government shutdown, Congress needs to seriously reevaluate its priorities and embrace a more responsible approach to spending. Upon assuming the Speakership, Nancy Pelosi declared that fiscal responsibility would be a hallmark of the 110th Congress. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.  The reality is that the appropriations bills thus far passed by the liberal leadership of the House are a whopping $80.4 billion more than what Congress spent last year in non-emergency spending. To add insult to injury, under the new rules of the House, these massive increases in spending will trigger massive tax hikes to pay for themselves.

The American people voted for change last November. They sent a very clear message that the status quo was unacceptable and that they expected better from their elected officials. The political pundits have a variety of explanations about what exactly the voters wanted changed. Some speculate that the war in Iraq was the reason. Others believe it was scandals and ethics violations. But I have never heard anyone suggest that the change the voters were seeking was for the federal government to spend more money or to increase the tax burden on American families.

This week promises to be a defining moment for the 110th Congress. The battle lines will be clearly drawn between those who wish to grow the size and scope of the federal government, and those who think the government is too big and spends too much. And there will also be a debate between those who think the American family is taxed too much and those who believe taxes need to be higher. As for me, I'll be a strong voice for Oklahoma common sense and fight for a leaner federal government and a fatter wallet for the Oklahoma taxpayer.