House Should Pass Budget Plan Before Spending More

Jun 11, 2019 | Budgets & Projections

For Immediate Release

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on “minibus” appropriations legislation combining five appropriations bills into one measure totaling nearly $1 trillion. This minibus spends above last year’s record levels and likely well above current law. The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:  

The House is about to consider a spending-cap busting bill without even having passed a budget or spending cap plan this year. This is a terrible way to manage the nation’s finances – both skipping the critical first step of putting a budget in place, and then following up with a budget-busting plan that throws fiscal responsibility to the wind. If lawmakers want to increase some areas of spending, they should do so within the confines of a thought-out budget, and they should offset additional costs so it doesn’t increase the debt.

Spending at the levels considered in the House earlier this year would add about $2 trillion to projected debt levels over the next decade. This should absolutely be a non-starter.

Before passing appropriations bills, lawmakers should agree to affordable and achievable discretionary spending levels. To the extent this requires an increase in current law caps, the increase should be accompanied by offsetting spending reductions and revenue. A responsible budget plan would also extend caps beyond 2021 and improve the integrity of both the caps and overall budget process to end the cycle of dysfunction, governing by crisis, and ignoring the long-term.

Until then, any appropriations should be based on current law spending levels, and most certainly be no higher than last year’s level. Fear not appropriators – you can always add more spending later.

Refusing to grapple with tradeoffs doesn’t make the tough decisions disappear, it just passes them along to future Congresses and future generations. Policymakers must confront these challenges today, not pile on the fiscal free-for-all Congress and the President have been engaging in over the past few years.

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For more information contact Patrick Newton, press secretary, at newton@crfb.org.