I voted in favor of the budget agreement reached by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The bill passed the House by a vote of 332-94, with support from 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats. It passed in the U.S. Senate and became law.
The agreement avoids another government shutdown, preserves dozens, perhaps hundreds, of jobs at Idaho National Laboratory, lays the groundwork for extending PILT payments, achieves greater savings for taxpayers than those contained in sequestration, and does all of it without raising taxes.
My Republican colleagues and I have been seeking reforms to sequestration that lessen the pain on the military, allow Congress to budget in a more orderly process, and maintain or enhance the long-term savings achieved by the Budget Control Act. This bill accomplished all three of those goals and was a positive step in the right direction. I am especially relieved that the agreement short circuits some of the devastating sequester-based cuts to Idaho National Laboratory – including cuts to its core nuclear energy research programs, the guard force that secures the facility against terrorism or sabotage, and ongoing cleanup activities that are so important to the protection of the environment and human health. The agreement also provides room in the budget to continue funding for PILT – something that was simply impossible under the clean CR advocated by some who voted no.
Among its provisions, the agreement would do the following:
Reduce the federal deficit by an additional $23 billion without raising taxes (according to CBO).
Put us on a path to reduce the deficit by $85 billion over ten years, $78 billion of which is spending cuts (according to CBO).
Replace sequestration’s arbitrary, across-the-board cuts with more rational deficit reduction.
Allow Congress to reclaim its Constitutional role in spending decisions and take spending authority away from the President.
Stop government checks to ineligible criminals and dead people.
Stop Medicaid payments that should be covered by dead-beat parents and insurance companies.
The bill was not perfect, but it is a positive agreement. Congress now has considerable work ahead of it to further reduce the budget and eliminating the deficit. I remain a strong proponent of a Balanced Budget Amendment and I am a leading advocate in Congress for reforming the tax code and entitlement programs to achieve real progress toward smaller, more efficient federal government. This agreement is a positive step in the right direction, but much work remains.