Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) have introduced H.Con.Res. 68, the Fiscal State of the Nation, a bipartisan proposal that will better inform lawmakers with the most current data on the federal budget. ATR supports this legislation and urges its passage.

H.Con.Res. 68 requires the Comptroller General of the United States to hold a “Fiscal State of the Nation” before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Budget Committees. This hearing gives lawmakers an opportunity to learn about the budget from a nonpartisan, non-biased source.  These hearings would be open to the public, and all members of Congress are encouraged to attend. 

Financial statements for the United States are already compiled, but are buried in 300 page reports. As a result, important information on the federal government’s assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, and sustainability of programs are often ignored or missed by Members of Congress, the media, and the public. The unfortunate consequence of this lack of transparency is that lawmakers legislate based on incomplete or inadequate information about the federal budget. 

This almost always results in Congress spending too much taxpayer money, expanding our deficits and driving our nation further and further into debt. The national debt has surpassed $22 trillion, and the long-term sustainability of important federal programs remains uncertain. At the same time, billions in taxpayer dollars are wasted on unnecessary or inefficient programs. By requiring an annual update on the long-term fiscal health of the country, H.Con.Res. 68 helps ensure our nation’s finances remains at the forefront of public discussion. 

As lawmakers look to make reforms to the federal budget, a Fiscal State of the Nation hearing can serve as a key way to give lawmakers the proper information to draft proposals. This resolution is a modest, but important step forward toward highlighting the nation’s long-term stability and should be supported by all lawmakers.