By Reps. Paul Ryan and Tom Graves
This month, the House is writing appropriations bills for fiscal 2014. And it's a crucial step. The budget resolution House Republicans passed in March outlined our vision for the country; it enunciated our principles. But these appropriations bills will put our principles into action. If we pass them, we'll cut spending the right way. And we'll reroute funding from yesterday's priorities to today's.
The budget resolution is our overall spending plan. It says how much money the federal government can spend over 10 years. But it doesn't give all the details on how the government should spend that money. That's where the appropriations bills come in. They spell out what each department must do. And most importantly, they hand over the taxpayers' money.
Since House Republicans took the majority, we've had a few disagreements with the president. So we haven't passed all 12 appropriations bills every year.
Instead, we've often had no choice but to use stopgap measures called continuing resolutions. A continuing resolution is better than a government shutdown, but here's the problem: A continuing resolution leaves spending on autopilot. It extends last year's spending pattern instead of putting our priorities in place.
And there's another wrinkle. In 2011, we put caps on discretionary spending. This year, we met those caps through a sequester: an arbitrary, across-the-board cut that took a big bite out of defense. House Republicans are committed to cutting spending. But we want to do it the right way. From now until 2021, current law lowers the caps on discretionary spending each year. Our appropriations bills will meet those spending caps while making national security a priority. We don't need another sequester. We need to make the hard choices ourselves.
The fact is, we're not offering a low-budget version of the president's platform. We're offering an alternative. And the best endorsement of regular order is the success we've had under it. Under regular order, we've funded 40,000 border-patrol agents, the largest number in our history. We've prohibited the release of prisoners from Guantánamo Bay. And we've preserved the secret ballot in union elections.
The appropriations bills will both put our priorities into law and abide by our budget's limits. And there's no time to lose. We need a strong national defense. We need to stop harmful regulations. And we need to conduct oversight of the executive branch. House Republicans agree on the end. Now we need to agree on the means. The best vehicle for reform isn't a continuing resolution. It's the appropriations process.