U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) today supported a proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives to restructure the federal budget by reducing spending, enforcing statutory caps and requiring a Balanced Budget Amendment.
Harper is an original cosponsor of H.R. 2560, the "Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011," which would immediately cut total non-defense discretionary spending below 2008 levels, cap federal payments at the historical average of 20 percent of GDP by 2021, and balance the budget by requiring that a Balanced Budget Amendment pass Congress and be sent to the states for ratification in order to increase the debt limit.
"Congress must significantly reduce spending," said Harper. "Reforming the budget process and establishing hard caps on spending is the only way that Washington can clean up this fiscal mess."
The Republican-led House passed a fiscal year 2012 budget resolution in April entitled "The Path to Prosperity" which reduces future federal government spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade relative to the current-policy baseline and proposes entitlement reforms, which is a historical step for Congress.
The Democratic-controlled Senate has refused to consider this plan.
The federal debt limit currently stands at $14.294 trillion and the Treasury Department has warned that the United States may face a situation in which it is unable to pay its obligations if it does not increase the debt limit by August 2, 2011. Historically, the debt limit has been raised before the debt reached the statutory borrowing limit.
There is no precedent or explicit policy to predict what Congress, the president, or federal agencies will do if the federal government reaches the debt limit. What is known is a debt limit crisis does not have the same effect as a government shutdown. Agencies may still obligate funds where Congress has provided budgetary authority. Still, there will not be enough cash to pay bills on time and delayed payments will affect the government's creditors.
"It's time for responsible leadership," added Harper. "The House continues to move legislation focusing on cutting spending and decreasing debt. And, other than talking about the need to raise taxes, neither the president nor Democratic lawmakers have brought forward a legislative plan to address our debt crisis."
H.R. 2560 passed the House strongly along party lines by a vote of 234 to 190.