Traditionally, Congress is expected to agree on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year by April 15th. It is this budget process at the beginning of each year where the decision is made regarding total federal spending for the year. It is the budget that sets the stage for how fiscally responsible government spending will be. Since the passage of the Budget Act of 1974, the House of Representatives has never failed to pass an initial budget to set the spending priorities for the following fiscal year. However, we are now a month past the deadline and Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership are showing no signs of complying with the law and coming forward with a budget for fiscal year 2011.
Families and small businesses all across our nation understand what it means to make tough decisions each day about what they can and cannot afford. They understand the importance of creating and living by a budget. Unfortunately, instead of making the tough choices necessary to reduce spending, the Majority in Congress has decided to forgo a budget altogether. Just four years ago the same leaders who are now shirking their responsibility and choosing to move forward without a budget were very clear on how important the budget process is to the operation of the federal government. In 2006, Congressman Steny Hoyer, who is now the House Majority Leader, was quoted as saying enacting a budget was "the most basic responsibility of governing" and Congressman John Spratt, who is now the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, said "if you can't budget, you can't govern."
Without the passage of a federal budget the reckless spending that has run rampant in Congress will only continue. We have already seen the passage, without my support, of the so-called "economic stimulus" legislation which was supposed to put Americans back to work. Not only did the stimulus legislation fail to create jobs but it is now estimated to be costing American taxpayers over $1 trillion including interest.
Not only should Congress produce a budget but, I am a strong supporter of several measures that promote the establishment of a balanced budget and the elimination of wasteful government programs, including a Constitutional amendment that I introduced which requires the federal government to balance its budget. Congress must steadfastly hold the line on government spending which is why I have consistently voted for the tightest budgets offered each year.
As elected officials and stewards of the taxpayer's money, we have a responsibility to put together a sustainable budget and stick to it. The Congress must continue to work to rein in spending and put to practice a spending approach that many Americans already live by: if you don't have it, don't spend it.
To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at www.goodlatte.house.gov.