Chairman Black Opening Statement on House Budget for Fiscal Year 2018

Remarks as prepared for delivery on the House floor.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today in support of H.Con.Res. 71, our budget, Building a Better America.

Our budget takes real, tangible steps to balance the budget, build a stronger military, unlock tax reform, and support an economy that creates opportunity for all Americans.

In past years, our budget resolution was a vision document, but this year is different.

With the election of President Trump, our budget goes from being a vision document to being a governing document that outlines how we build a better America for our children and grandchildren.

Today, we have an opportunity to fulfil our promises to the American people.

Balancing the budget by 2027 is our top priority. Our national debt stands at $20 trillion, with $9 trillion added over just the last eight years.

For too long, both parties in Washington have failed to abide by a simple principle that all American families and small businesses do – that we must live within our means.

Balancing the budget requires us to make tough choices, but the consequences of inaction far outweigh any political risks we may face.

Unless we take bold steps to bring excessive spending and debt under control, a sovereign debt crisis is the natural conclusion.

Failure to take swift and decisive action is not only inexcusable, it is immoral.

The budget resolution before us takes real steps to put our country on a sound fiscal path that balances in ten years and will allow us to start paying down the national debt.

Building a Better America also assumes bold reforms to strengthen programs that our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens rely on and ensure that these programs can continue to serve them for generations to come.

While our budget includes reforms to discretionary spending, we also strongly believe that mandatory spending must be addressed in this budget resolution and in budget resolutions to come.

Mandatory spending is already more than two-thirds of all federal spending, and that number will only continue to grow.

That’s why our committee felt strongly about addressing mandatory spending programs in this budget through reconciliation.

Our budget requires 11 Authorizing Committees to find a minimum of $203 billion in savings and reforms over the ten-year budget window, with an expectation that the reforms will result in significantly higher savings.

This package of mandatory reforms is the largest since the 1990s through reconciliation and it is a first step to change the culture of spending in Washington.

Our budget also promotes tax and regulatory reform to get the federal government out of the way and allow our free-market economy to thrive.

The larger the government, the less freedom individuals and businesses have to thrive, grow, hire and innovate.

The Obama economy left millions of Americans behind, with over 14 million people leaving the labor force in the last eight years.

Through reconciliation, our budget specifically paves the way for pro-growth tax reform that will reduce taxes for middle class Americans and free up American businesses to grow and hire.

It will also simplify the tax code, allowing 9 out of 10 Americans to file their taxes on a simple post card.

Many of our friends across the aisle and in the media have said that 1.9 percent economic growth is the new normal – that we are doomed to continue the economic stagnation of the Obama years.

They have a pessimistic view of our nation’s ability to create jobs and build a foundation of greater opportunity for all.

America has the greatest workers, the greatest innovators and the entrepreneurial ethos to far surpass the economic growth of the last eight years, if only the federal government would get out of their way.

In this budget, we put our trust in the American people.

But a stronger economy is not enough; we must also strengthen our military.

The number one job of the federal government is to protect its citizens.

Over the last eight years, the weak foreign policy of President Obama has led to increased threats from all corners of the globe while the funding for our men and women in uniform has failed to keep pace.

Building a Better America invests $621.5 billion in our military and $75 billion specifically for the global war on terrorism for fiscal year 2018.

These resources will help our men and women in uniform complete the mission with which they have been tasked.

Building a Better America presents us with an opportunity to change the trajectory of our country forever. The election of President Trump was a signal to all of us that the American people will no longer accept the status quo.

This budget is also a very personal one for me. As I and my committee have gone through the long and arduous process of getting this budget to the floor, I’ve had to stop and think about not just what we’re doing, but why we’re doing it.

I have a picture of my six grandchildren taped to the back of my voting card. I was a nurse for 40 years – still have my license today. Government and public service was never an ambition of mine. But when I saw what was happening in my state and in this country, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing.

Every time I put my voting card into the slot, I’m reminded of why I left a career that I loved to join the political fray.

It’s for them. It’s for my children and grandchildren and for yours as well.

I grew up in an America where a poor girl, whose parents’ only ambition was for her to finish high school, could graduate college, become a nurse and eventually become a member of the United States House of Representatives.

I grew up in an America that was a land of opportunity, of strength and of compassion.

But that America is slipping away from us.

For too many young people in this country, the opportunity to live the American dream is out of reach. A government that was supposed to be of, by and for the people has left too many behind.

Building a better America requires a government that spends within its means; a military with the resources to complete the mission; an economy that creates opportunity for all; and a federal bureaucracy that respects the taxpayers.

But it also requires an understanding that the greatness of America does not lie in the grand buildings and stone pillars in Washington, D.C. The greatness of America lies in the spirit and tenacity of its people.

We designed Building a Better America to put this vision into practice, to empower individuals to live their version of the American Dream.

Future generations of Americans are counting on us, and failure is not an option.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of this committee for the hard work they’ve all done.

For months, we have worked tirelessly to come together and build a budget that reflects our principles.

It hasn’t been easy, but producing a budget that puts our vision for fiscal sanity into practice will be worth it and I thank each and every one of you for your hard work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I yield back.