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No Threat of Government Shutdown

March 21, 2016
Weekly Columns

Considering the presidential election cycle, terrorist threats at home and abroad and President Obama’s attempt to nominate a new justice of the Supreme Court, the coming months are certain to bring their fair share of drama. However, in the midst of these contentious circumstances, it’s important to note what isn’t adding to the turmoil for a change. Because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, there has been no threat or even talk of a government shutdown this year.

Even though the compromise agreement reached last year has brought much-needed certainty to the budget and appropriations process, questions and misunderstandings still abound about what exactly was in the budget deal between Congress and the Administration. The negotiated agreement set the spending limits for funding government operations, which allowed Congress to make much needed investments in our military. This has ensured that our service men and women are well-equipped this year to face, fight and defuse escalating conflicts, particularly in the Middle East due to the rise and mobilization of ISIS.

Without the Bipartisan Budget Act, the negotiations that ultimately funded the government for the current fiscal year would not have occurred. While Republicans in both chambers of Congress didn’t get everything they wanted in the omnibus funding legislation that kept the government open and operational, neither did President Obama get everything he wanted from the compromise. For example, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services and Education that I chair helped identify and recommend cuts that ultimately slashed $5.5 billion from the amount the president originally requested. In addition, by both reprioritizing and cutting spending, we were able to find ways to boost funding for biomedical and disease research, which secured an historic increase for Alzheimer’s disease and yielded greater support for cancer research.

Currently, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are looking ahead and preparing for the future. As many know, the first step in the process of funding the government is introduction and passage of a budget in the spring. Last week, I joined my fellow members of the House Budget Committee in unveiling our conservative budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Like previous budgets offered by House Republicans, our latest budget strengthens health and retirement programs, reforms the wasteful entitlement spending driving our debt and ultimately provides a better environment for job creation and economic growth. It points the nation in a financially responsible direction and actually balances the budget without raising taxes on hardworking Americans.

House Republicans have consistently recognized that difficult decisions must be made to reduce our deficits and pay down our debt. Unfortunately, since President Obama has repeatedly chosen not to seriously address and reform entitlement programs, he has spent our country into near ruin and will force his successor to deal with the drivers of our debt. Republicans in Congress have proven they will cast the tough votes needed to cut spending and balance the budget. Hopefully the next president, unlike the current occupant of the White House, will work with them to achieve that objective