Our budget process is broken

December 16, 2022

America’s skyrocketing national debt has put our country on an unsustainable path that threatens the financial well-being of future generations. At present, our national debt stands at $31.4 trillion, which equates to $248,582 liability per taxpayer. If American families are expected to live within their means, we should expect no less from the federal government. The first step is addressing our broken budget process, which has for too long relied on stopgaps and shortcuts instead of careful funding solutions.

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 laid out the congressional budget process, which encompasses all legislative activities on the budget resolution, appropriations and reconciliation bills, and all other budgetary legislation. Sadly, this process is rarely followed, and congressional leadership has often opted for a shortcut: the continuing resolution.

A continuing resolution is meant to be a temporary spending bill that allows the federal government to continue operating at pre-existing funding levels. What was meant to be a fallback option has become a way of doing business. In fact, the federal government has operated under continuing resolutions in all but 3 of the last 46 years.

Congress cannot continue to abdicate its responsibility. We have introduced legislation to address the broken budgeting process, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act. This bill, which has a companion in the Senate led by Senator Rand Paul, would avert a government shutdown in the event a spending agreement cannot be reached.

However, this legislation does not allow legislators to continue to rely on continuing resolutions. Instead, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act will automatically reduce federal spending by 1% across the board, adding an additional percentage cut for every thirty days an agreement has not been reached. I have never been a big proponent of indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts as programs that operate efficiently are lumped in with spending on wasteful and duplicative accounts, however, our current trajectory is so unsustainable that something must be done to right the fiscal course of the country. 

The American people deserve better. Our Government Shutdown Prevention Act is a chance to bring back responsible spending and restore fiscal sanity. My hope is that our new republican majority in the House of Representatives will give us an opportunity to advance this and other legislative proposals that will bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington and prevent us from further mortgaging the futures of our children and grandchildren.