Budget/Appropriations/Spending

I use my positions as Chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee to advance policies that will help put our fiscal house in order while promoting a healthy economy and keeping more money in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers.

As one of only two accountants in the United States Senate, I know how important it is to reduce the national debt by controlling spending and following a budget.  The United States has a spending problem, and hard-earned tax dollars are wasted by Washington.  By 2029, the nation's debt is projected to grow to $27.8 trillion, or 93 percent of GDP, which is more than double the 50-year average of 42 percent.  All this overspending is causing the federal debt to balloon.  America’s debt is at its highest level since World War II, a burden that our children and grandchildren will be forced to bear.    

While serving as Chairman of the Budget Committee, I have worked hard to advance budget resolutions that could put the federal government on a better fiscal path by restraining spending, reducing tax burdens, and boosting economic growth.  If Congress followed these fiscal blueprints, the government would be on track to live within its means in just 10 years’ time.  Unfortunately, shortly after passing these responsible budgets, Congress ignored them.

The truth is, America’s budget and appropriations process is broken, and this dysfunction is preventing Congress from tackling our country’s pressing fiscal challenges.  Fiscal reform is needed now if we hope to avoid disaster. 

We need enforceable fiscal targets that are monitored and enforced annually to make sure lawmakers stay focused on deficit reduction and achieving a sustainable federal budget.  If we followed my Penny Plan, for example, and cut spending by just 1 percent each year – 1 cent of every dollar spent – for the next five years, we could balance the budget. 

We also need to change the way Congress considers annual spending bills.  The current process means that Congress finds itself in a nearly perpetual quest to develop and pass 12 funding bills for the next fiscal year to avoid a funding lapse.  And yet, the sheer size and complexity of the federal budget and appropriations process virtually guarantee that Congress will not consider all of the appropriations bills individually each year. 

That’s why I have called for moving to a biennial spending plan, like Wyoming uses.  Specifically, if we moved to a two-year funding cycle and halved the number of bills that Congress must consider each year (from 12 to six), we could allow Congress to devote more time to needed oversight of federal spending, which would help us identify duplication and wasteful programs.  Such a reform would make it more likely that Congress would complete its work on time, reducing the likelihood of continuing funding resolutions or large, year-end spending bills, which are inefficient and too often loaded with wasteful spending 

Oversight of federal spending is another important way to address the nation’s fiscal challenges, helping lawmakers understand where taxpayer dollars are going to ensure that those funds are wisely spent.  Each year, the Government Accountability Office identifies a growing number of government programs that are duplicative, overlapping, and fragmented.  These programs result from the budget and spending process, which can make it nearly impossible to understand how much funding is devoted to a particular policy proposal or goal.  Federal agencies and congressional committees whose jurisdictions overlap often make these decisions without consulting each other.  Too often this means decisions are not guided by the most up-to-date information that can show whether federal funding has accomplished its stated goal. We need a measurable track record of results, solutions and success.

During my time as Budget Chairman, I have prioritized oversight of federal spending in order to help lawmakers improve programs that are not delivering results.  Under my leadership, the Budget Committee has focused on several aspects of oversight to ensure the federal government is accountable to hardworking taxpayers.  These efforts include boosting transparency for federal agencies, improving financial management, targeting duplication of federal programs, and improving federal information technology and program accountability.  

These are just some of the initiatives on which I am working to put our country on a better fiscal path and to ensure a more efficient, effective, and accountable government.

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