Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) Statement on H.R. 2021 at the House Rules Committee

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the Rules Committee, thank you for the opportunity to express my concerns with H.R. 2021.

I had hoped my friend from Kentucky and I would be before you at this time of year on a budget, but unfortunately, we are here on another matter.

The bill we are here to discuss today, by definition, is not a budget – despite what some of my colleagues across the aisle have been suggesting.

It does not provide Congress a guide for how to handle spending and revenue decisions. It does not address our nation’s rising deficits or $22 trillion debt. It does not offer solutions to prevent Medicare and Social Security from going insolvent. It does not offer a vision for how to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable path and prevent our children and grandchildren from being saddled with record-high levels of debt.

The only document that can do that is a budget.

As you all know, the power of the purse is one of our primary responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution. It’s also why the Budget Committee was created. Without a budget, Congress is flying blind and very likely to exacerbate our fiscal problems.

However, my colleagues across the aisle have taken a short cut that focuses on a small portion of the overall federal budget.

I agree with the need to gradually and responsibly raise and extend discretionary spending caps, which have proven to be effective in restraining federal spending and have helped save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, this bill is not the answer.

It is missing the key ingredients that the last three discretionary spending cap increases have had, including bipartisan input, White House participation, and a plan to offset spending.

Further, it substantially increases federal spending and it unwinds the progress Republicans in Congress and this administration have made to restore our military readiness and protect our national security.

We tried in the Budget Committee to address these issues, but my friends on the other side refused to accept even a single one of our proposed amendments.

The Rules Committee has an opportunity to make amendments in order that could improve this situation.

Without changes, this bill has no chance of being signed into law – wasting an opportunity to responsibly fund our priorities.

Toward that end, I’d like to ask the Committee to make in order an amendment that my good friend from Ohio, Congressman Bill Johnson, offered during our markup.

The amendment would make this legislation fiscally responsible by requiring mandatory spending reforms equal to or greater than the amount of the caps increases in the bill.

This proposed change is an important part of governing. We have heard from the Congressional Budget Office in our Committee on numerous occasions, that the growth of mandatory spending programs is outpacing all of our other spending and driving us further into debt. Interest on the debt will be the size of the defense budget in 2026.

If you care about discretionary spending, as many of you on this Committee do, you should be worried about mandatory spending.

I also understand the Committee may consider an amendment to add yet another cap adjustment. There are two in the bill now, which have the effect of disregarding the cap limits the authors are setting.

This exercise just makes the point … we should do a budget.

We have real opportunities to make these programs better for the people we represent and fix our debt. With a Republican-led White House and Senate, shouldn’t we be working together to do just that in this House?

I strongly oppose this bill in its current form. I hope this Committee can see the value of allowing the House to work its will and debate amendments.

With that, thank you again for the opportunity to be here today, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

###