Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) Statement on Closed Rule Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 6

I rise in strong opposition to H. Res. 415, a rule providing for House consideration of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), H.R. 6 increases the deficit by at least $30 billion over ten years. CBO indicates that this is additional mandatory spending. Under current projections, mandatory spending is set to increase from 69 percent to 78 percent of the federal budget over the next decade. Adding to this already unsustainable projected growth, mandatory spending threatens to crowd out necessary spending on defense, homeland security, veterans, infrastructure, public health, education, and other discretionary priorities. Absent the waiver made by this rule, H.R. 6 would be vulnerable to a PAYGO point of order.

The rule providing for consideration of H.R. 6 waives all points of order against the bill, including clause 10 of rule XXI, the House PAYGO, or “Pay-As-You-Go,” rule, which requires any legislation increasing the deficit to be offset with spending cuts or tax increases.

Unsurprisingly, this rule was met with strong objections at the start of the 116th Congress by many progressive lawmakers who viewed PAYGO as an impediment to costly proposals such as the “Green New Deal” and “Medicare-for-All,” which is projected to cost at least $32 trillion on top of what the federal government is already spending. After much debate, the PAYGO rule was adopted by the new House majority on January 3, the first day of the 116th Congress. Immediately after this new House rule was adopted, a number of stories circulated in the press indicating that my colleagues in the Democratic Leadership intended to waive the PAYGO rule any time they needed to. In a sign of more division on that side of the aisle, Democrats introduced bills to repeal the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act, even though they had just voted for PAYGO in the House rules package.

From a budget enforcement perspective, this bill is one of the first big tests of the session, and it seems that the Democratic majority has fallen short. I hope this waiver does not set the precedent that the House PAYGO rule will be waived by the House Rules Committee whenever a bill is non-compliant, feels inconvenient, or stands in the way of advancing their costly agenda.

I oppose the rule for H.R. 6, since it enables a fiscally irresponsible bill to move forward without following House rules. Budget enforcement should be an important priority of the House Budget Committee. I hope the House will limit the extent to which future legislation increases already unsustainable budget deficits.