BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I am on the floor this afternoon to discuss a discovery--really, a stunning discovery for me--and that is important for all of us.
As many people know, Congress and the President struck a deal last summer to raise the debt ceiling. That deal set in place discretionary spending caps--not nearly enough to balance our budget over 10 years but a step in the right direction. That legislation said we will raise the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion but we will cut spending $2.1 trillion over 10 years--a promise to cut spending over 10 years.
That legislation also required the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee--of which I am the ranking member--by April 15 of this year to file aggregate spending levels--spending limits--based on the Congressional Budget Office's March 2012 financial baseline and to allocate the funds that could be spent under that Budget Control Act legislation to each of the Senate Appropriations Committees. In other words, these levels as submitted tell the appropriators how much they can spend, and the budget chairman has that responsibility and duty to do that. He takes the level agreement that was agreed to and sends that over.
These are real dollars that each appropriating committee is therefore allowed to spend. Yet we have learned something that is disappointing--really astounding to me. The numbers filed by Chairman Conrad, my good friend who is a fair and able chairman, are not, in fact, the spending levels from the CBO baseline as the statute sets forward. Instead, the discretionary outlay total submitted by the chairman to the committees for fiscal year 2013 is derived from the President's budget, not from the CBO baseline.
The discretionary spending allocation for the Senate is therefore inflated by about $14 billion more than what was agreed to just last August when we told the American people we would raise the debt ceiling, continue to borrow money, but we were going to reduce spending.
So let me repeat that. These allocation levels have been inflated by $14 billion to match the President's budget--not the CBO base line that the BCA Committee was working from. It raises outlay levels over that August agreement. That, I submit, was a solemn agreement between the Members of Congress, both the Senate and the House, the American people, and the President himself who signed that agreement.
So I have sent a letter to Chairman Conrad urging my chairman to correct and refile numbers that are proper--numbers that comply with the law.
I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a letter that I have written Senator Conrad today.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SESSIONS. It is unthinkable that we would not only spend more than Congress agreed to but would institute instead the numbers derived from President Obama's budget--which, in this Chamber, when I brought it up a few days ago, was rejected unanimously. This is another example, I am afraid I have to say, of the sleight-of-hand tactics that have been utilized in this Congress for too long that say we have an agreement and we are going to do better and we are going to spend less. But as soon as the ink is dry--before the ink is dry, really, on the agreements, people start manipulating ways around it trying to spend more than the allowed. It seems to me, since I have been in the Senate for 15, 16 years, we have Members of Congress who take it as a personal challenge to see how they can defeat, get around, and spend more money than they are allocated.
The American people are being misled in this attempt. We are not following the Budget Control Act, and it is not a partisan matter. It is about honest accounting. It is about safeguarding the American treasury. It is about restoring faith in the Senate Chamber. The American people are right to be angry with us and to not trust us because we haven't honored their trust. We haven't managed their money well. Political elites remain totally disconnected from the financial reality that our country faces.
Game the system, spend more. The alarming discovery that the discretionary allocations filed for the Senate are a total of $14 billion higher than we agreed to and the latest in a long line of episodes, this is the latest in a long line of episodes that underscores the financial chaos that is the American Government.
These episodes include the GSA scandal in Las Vegas, with hot tubs and skits and magicians; the Solyndra loan, $500 million to cronies for an ideological vision that did not work; the IRS checks I talked about earlier this morning, with Senator Vitter, given to illegal aliens who claim dependents living abroad. These are people here illegally claiming dependents abroad while the U.S. Government is sending them checks based on children who are not in the country. The inspector general from the IRS says this is costing the taxpayers $4 billion a year.
It also includes the revelation that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will spend $1 million or more of taxpayer money for a decadent getaway to a beachfront resort and spa in the Hawaiian tropics. And, of course, it includes a 3-year refusal of the Senate majority to produce a budget plan--3 years without a budget.
We are badly in need of strong Executive leadership to put our finances in order. We need a President, Cabinet heads, sub-Cabinet heads who understand from the top to the bottom that they are there every day to look for ways to save money. This immigration tax scam costs the American taxpayers $10 million a day. Divide that out, $4 billion over 365 days. The House has passed legislation that would close that gaping loophole. Meanwhile, the Senate is not acting.
This chaos cannot continue. Accountability and discipline must be achieved, and the first step to right the ship ought to be actually correcting these allocations. I call on my Senate leadership friends to do that. We need an honest accounting. We need to spend what we agreed to, what was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President. These dollars do not belong to us, they belong to the American people. They must be protected. Each one of them is precious. Each one of them was extracted from some hard-working American and sent to Washington on the hope and the prayer that it would be wisely spent. And we do not have enough of them. We do not have enough money.
To stealthily increase discretionary outlays by $14 billion in one fell swoop is unacceptable. It must be corrected. I call on my colleagues to do so, else we will continue to lose the confidence of the American people.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT