Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) today called on the House Budget Committee to take a balanced, bipartisan approach to solving the ongoing fiscal crisis during mark-up of the House Republican 2014 budget offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
"I would hope that we could build on some of the bipartisan, collegial work we have already done," Rep. Schrader said in his opening remarks. "But I would argue respectfully that by doubling down on the sequester and the Republican budget we do not get any more deficit reduction. Revenue has to be part of the additional equation. We are not going to get a balanced budget on just spending cuts alone.
"I agree with my colleagues that health care spending is the biggest problem our nation faces right now. So, let's get together and let's have some tax reform that puts some revenue on the table, to not only pay down on the deficit, but to make sure Medicare is solvent. And let's actually go ahead and make sure that we have an opportunity for serious reductions in Medicare spending that we actually both agree on and don't shift burdens just to our seniors."
In addition to cosponsoring multiple Democratic amendments throughout the mark-up, Schrader offered two amendments of his own to the Ryan budget.
The first amendment would have added a finding for a long-term, balanced approach to deficit reduction by putting mandatory health care programs on a fiscally sustainable path, targeting smaller spending cuts in discretionary accounts, enacting substantive tax reform that raises revenue and considering process and institutional reforms necessary to maintain those savings.
The second amendment introduced by Congressman Schrader, which was adopted unanimously by the committee and included in the budget, adds a place holder within the budget proposal to provide for a one year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, if such legislation includes increased timber management and would not increase the deficit.
Following the Republican-held House Budget Committee's passage of the Ryan budget, an unsatisfied Schrader said, "Tonight, after hours of debate, this committee failed to prove to millions of Americans and those watching around the world that Congress takes this nation's fiscal crisis seriously.
"The repetitive, all-familiar Ryan budget, which Americans clearly voiced their disapproval of in November, again tries to reduce the federal deficit on the backs of our seniors and the middle class, drastically lessens America's future competitiveness through cuts to education, transportation infrastructure and other essential domestic programs and threatens our nation's fragile economic recovery and job creation. In no way does this partisan legislation attempt to compromise, create jobs or economic opportunity or invest in the middle class of the future.
"I was pleased, however, that my amendment to put folks back to work in the woods and reauthorize the SRS bridge passed through the committee. I hope that this is an indication that Congress is ready to join me in my commitment to providing our struggling timber communities with good jobs and long-term economic opportunities and to lead them into an era of self-reliance."