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Why I Could Not Support the Budget Deal

February 9, 2018

The congressional budgeting process is broken. By continually passing short-term funding bills and driving up spending levels, we are abdicating the constitutional power of the purse.

Our focus must be on reducing spending, as the decisions we make today will fall on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. This is why I could not support the budget deal passed by Congress on February 9. From raising spending caps by $300 billion to pushing off crucial decisions on the debt ceiling for another year, this deal sent to the House by the Senate is not the answer to our country’s fiscal challenges.

The showdown in Congress this week was in part due to budgetary caps enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. In exchange for increasing the debt limit, Congress voted in 2011 to establish annual spending limits for fiscal years 2012 through 2021. We made a promise to the American people to take serious action to address our fiscal problems.

I could not vote to undo those reforms and raise the debt limit with this budget deal.

A few days before the budget deal vote, I had supported the House’s continuing resolution to keep the government open and provide necessary resources to our men and women in uniform. I have voted with my House colleagues multiple times in the past year to provide financial certainty to our troops, as we know a strong defense is essential.  

Our military should not be caught in the middle of these funding disagreements, and the House’s continuing resolution would have fully funded our national defense for the entire fiscal year – something we should all agree on. However, Senate leaders again chose not to accept our legislation and instead forced consideration of their own deal.  

As my colleague Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said following the vote, “I understand the urgent need to strengthen our national defense. But Congressional Democrats have held our military hostage through the appropriations process.” 

Just as we do not need to bust the budget to properly fund our military, we also know we cannot tax and spend our way out of debt. Unfortunately, this bill not only pushed the debt ceiling even higher but coupled it with large spending increases, including more than $130 billion in new non-defense discretionary spending. Our national debt has climbed to more than $20 trillion, and heaping these levels of spending on top of it shows we must take this threat more seriously.  

Additionally, I am concerned about what will happen when we find ourselves in this same position in six weeks when the continuing resolution expires. I have often said Congress does not look to the future often enough, and these short-term patches only add to the uncertainty.

Nebraskans sent me to Washington to fight for fiscal responsibility and limited government. Throughout my time in Congress, I have consistently voted against giving the federal government a blank check with no budgetary reforms. We owe the American people greater responsibility in the way we budget and govern.  

To ensure freedom and opportunity for future generations, we cannot abdicate our responsibility to bring spending under control. As our congressional agenda moves forward, I will continue to work on solutions to get our country’s fiscal house in order.