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Congress Makes The Final Call

March 20, 2017
Weekly Columns
Each year, Congress has the responsibility to pass a budget, and then appropriate funds in accordance with that budget to fund the federal government agencies. The process typically starts in February when the President submits his proposed budget. But Congress has no obligation to adhere to the President’s budget or even to put it to a vote. President Obama’s budgets were routinely rejected - and not on a partisan basis. More than once his proposed budgets failed to receive a single vote from either party in both the House and the Senate.
Congress is not blameless in this process either. Many times in the past several years they have failed to pass Appropriation bills, leading to one of the most irresponsible acts that Congress can fall back on – the continuing resolution.
A continuing resolution is essentially putting government spending on auto-pilot. Whatever we spent last year is what we will spend this year. Regardless of different circumstances, different national priorities and different needs, we will spend the same amount and follow the same policies. This is a terrible, irresponsible way to run any organization, let alone the world’s predominant super power.
The current Continuing Resolution expires on April 28th this year. Congress should pass all Appropriations bills that responsibly fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2017, and then quickly pivot towards passing a budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which will begin appropriating the funds directed by that budget.
During his campaign and throughout his presidency thus far, President Trump has firmly advocated for a stronger, larger military. I wholeheartedly agree with him – we need to lift the sequester and restore our military funding to the level necessary to protect our homeland, our citizens and our allies. However, we need to find savings in other parts of the government to help pay for it. I do not believe that paying for it on the backs of children, senior citizens or poor people is the best way to do it. Minor adjustments to entitlement programs will yield tremendous revenue that will not only help pay for our national priorities, it will extend the life of programs like Medicare and Social Security. And it will ensure that we maintain the resources to protect and defend the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens.
President Trump proposed a bold budget that fundamentally changes the direction and priorities of the federal government. I agree with much of it, but have serious reservations about some of it. Ultimately the president proposes, and the Congress disposes. As a member of both the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to making sure the taxes of the American people are spent wisely and prudently.