Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Renacci spoke to the Joint Select Committee on Budget Process to discusses ideas to fix our broken budget process. View his full statement HERE.
I first want to thank the co-chairman of the Joint Select Committee for holding this hearing today and allowing members of Congress to share their ideas on proposals to fix our broken budget process.
I have spent a lot of time since first being elected to Congress on solving our bleak fiscal outlook and our current budget process. The budget process has never worked properly and is extremely frustrating for lawmakers and the constituents who we are elected to serve. We need to take strong steps to hold Congress accountable to ourselves and to the American people. I believe that I have two legislative proposals that have been introduced that would help accomplish these goals.
First, I believe that it critical that the American people and the Congress are aware of the financial situation that our country faces. So I have introduced a bill that would do just that. It’s simple. All it would require is for the Comptroller General of the GAO to provide a Fiscal State of the Nation to a Joint Session of Congress on an annual basis. The presentation would include an analysis of the condition of our country’s fiscal status, including our budget deficits and the long term fiscal projections for our social insurance programs. It would be a presentation of our fiscal issues and it would be public for all Americans.
Right now, our country is on the cusp of a national debt crisis. By 2023, the CBO projects that we will spend more paying down our interest than we will on our national defense. By 2028 the debt held by the public as a share of GDP will increase to 96% - the largest since 1946.
As lawmakers, we have a moral responsibility to address these challenges and work together to find bipartisan solutions to stave off this pending crisis.
A strong first step would be requiring Congress to come together to hear from the non-partisan Comptroller General what the fiscal state of the country is in order to highlight the crisis that we face and put members on notice to the public that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The best way to tackle a problem is to first shine light on the problem. At my request, the Comptroller General has testified before the House Budget Committee in recent years, and I believe that this issue is too important for the full Congress to ignore.
Some will say that a Joint Session of Congress is not the right venue for this type of speech. I would counter by asking doubters why they believe this isn’t an important enough issue to convene a Joint Session and why they are afraid to set this new precedent.
This legislation currently has more than 130 bi-partisan cosponsors and last Congress had close to 200 cosponsors. Additionally, this legislation was included in the 2016 Budget Committee Budget Reform White Paper and has been endorsed by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the AICPA, the Concord Coalition, and the National Taxpayer Union.
Along with awareness, I think that we need to do a better job of holding ourselves accountable. The second bill that I have introduced would make sure that Congress actually abides by the budgets that we pass. The Budget Enforcement Awareness Resolution will restore integrity to budget enforcement by raising member awareness when the House of Representatives is voting on legislation that is breaking the budget.
Too often, the Rules Committee waives budget related issues, preventing members of Congress to object to legislation that breaks the budget. My legislation would amend the House rules to allow members of the House to call for a recorded vote on these waivers and put members on the record whether or not they wish to waive the budget. As someone who spent my career in the business world, I believe it is important that we pass a budget and then follow the budget. This bipartisan legislation would hold Congress responsible to ourselves and ensure that we actually follow our budget.
I commend the work of this Joint Select Committee in reforming our broken budget process and believe that the two measures that I discussed today should be considered as a part of the broader reforms that are needed to fix the budget process. I want to thank you again for your time and I yield back the remaining balance of my time.