Congress is set to vote on a spending deal that will bust discretionary spending caps and raise the debt ceiling through 2021. This package busts the discretionary caps by $320 billion over the next two years and contains less than $80 billion in budget offsets.
Conservative lawmakers should reject this budget deal.
This package breaks spending caps as outlined in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The BCA contained an enforcement mechanism that capped discretionary spending in the event an agreement on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction could not be reached.
Discretionary spending accounts for 30 percent of total federal spending, and Congress appropriates funding for these programs on an annual basis. The other 70 percent of the federal spending is automatically funded, and comprises programs like Medicare and Social Security.
If lawmakers are serious about reducing federal spending in the short term, holding the line on discretionary spending caps is the only option.
Since the BCA was enacted, Congress has passed three Bipartisan Budget Acts that broke the BCA caps by a combined $440 billion over 6 years. The first two deals broke the caps by a combined $144 billion. The third deal, which Congress passed in 2018, broke the caps by $296 billion over 2018 and 2019. That deal was only offset by approximately 13 percent.
This year’s spending package rapidly accelerates the growth of federal spending by breaking the discretionary caps by $320 billion over the next two years with less than $80 billion in offsets. With a national debt of $22 trillion and climbing, this runaway spending is simply unsustainable.
Conservatives have led the fight for fiscal responsibility throughout these budget negotiations. The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the House’s largest caucus of conservative lawmakers, sent a letter to Congressional leadership outlining the need for fiscal restraint in this budget deal. Unfortunately, it appears that none of their recommendations have been included in the final deal.
The legislation being taken up this week will only worsen the failure to constrain spending. Instead of working to constrain spending and pass a fiscally responsible budget, Democrats have been trying to raise their own pay.
If Democrats (and some Republicans) were serious about fiscal responsibility, they would go back to the drawing board and produce a budget resolution through regular order that abides by the BCA spending caps.