Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) Opening Remarks at Hearing on the President’s FY 2020 Budget

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Acting Director Vought, for joining us today. As this Committee works to craft a budget resolution for the fiscal year ahead, we appreciate the opportunity to discuss President Trump’s budget and spending priorities with you.

As you know, while the Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, funding the priorities of the American people while addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges is no easy task. It requires collaboration between both sides of the aisle, both chambers of the Capitol, and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. This is particularly true when the American people have sent a divided government to Washington, as they have for the 116th Congress.

That’s why hearing from the administration today is so important.

As the Congressional Budget Office warned earlier this year, our nation is nearing a fiscal crisis. I would argue we are already in one. At our current spending levels, over the next decade, deficits will total $11.6 trillion and the national debt will rise to nearly $34 trillion. Over the same period, the share of debt held by the American people will reach 93 percent of GDP – the highest debt level since just after World War II.

We cannot continue down this path. We must lead by example, making the tough choices necessary to reverse course.

While there is still much work to do to put our spending back on a sustainable path, the President’s budget takes steps in the right direction.

It reduces the deficit by $2.8 trillion between 2020 and 2029. Whereas, under current law, annual deficits are nearing $1 trillion annually, in 2029, under this proposal, the annual deficit will be lowered to $202 billion.

Further, this budget reduces the share of the debt held by the public from nearly 80 percent of GDP to just over 71 percent of GDP – that’s a vast improvement from the historically high debt levels projected for 2029 under current law.

Additionally, there are a number of priorities I am pleased to see in this budget.

For example, this budget takes steps to secure our borders and support our troops and veterans.

As someone who has served in the military, I believe ensuring the safety and security of the American people is the most fundamental purpose of the federal government, and I appreciate the administration’s clear commitment to these priorities.

I also appreciate the administration’s focus in this budget on improving the long-term health of the American people by investing in life-saving medical research, efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and reforms to improve our health care system.

But as I have said before, our biggest threat to all of these priorities – and to the long-term security, health, and prosperity of our nation – is out-of-control mandatory spending.

Today mandatory spending programs account for 70 percent of all federal spending and are projected to increase to 78 percent by 2029. These programs have grown far beyond their intended size and scope and have far exceeded what we can afford. Without action, not only will these programs crowd out resources for other priorities, they will be unable to deliver the benefits workers today expect for the future.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle are choosing to ignore that reality, introducing ideas for new mandatory programs while also looking to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps for FY2020. As we move forward in the budgetprocess, I again ask: what is your plan to offset these increases?

At our Members’ Day hearing last week, we were pleased to hear from the distinguished Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Hoyer.  It was a very productive discussion about the need for a Caps Deal this year.  However, I noticed we have not heard much yet from our friends on the other side about how they would pay for such a deal.

It has been suggested that we should use the Ryan-Murray deal from 2013 as a model for a Caps Deal. If that’s our benchmark, I look forward to hearing recommendations for offsetting increases in discretionary spending by addressing out-of-control mandatory spending.

Mr. Chairman, before I yield back, as late as last night, I saw news that suggested there is a debate about whether the Majority party even plans to do a budget. I want you to know I feel your pain. I’ve been there. But it’s like asking if we’re going to do our jobs. Now, I know I’m speaking to the choir a little bit with my friend, the Budget Chairman, because we were in agreement on the budget process changes that we were advocating last year on the Joint Select Committee on Budget [and Appropriations] Process Reform. I will say again, it is a flawed and broken process. It needs to change. We need budget process reform.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to today’s discussion, and I yield back.