SPENDING CONTROL ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - June 24, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 692 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 4663.
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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I rise in opposition to the Nussle budget reform proposal, but I do so with great respect for the Committee on the Budget and his leadership on that, and I want to say that this is the proper discussion and a discussion which we should be having.
As a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I see it a little bit differently. I think that we are both going towards the same goal, the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Appropriations; yet we are taking a different course. What our concern is about is the so-called statutory caps in the Nussle proposal give the executive branch, the President, three different bites of the apple: one when he submits the budget, the next using his veto pen, and then another one forcing his will on Congress. He will very much be at the table. And as our Founding Fathers established the separation of powers, I believe that there should be a little more than a philosophical firewall between the executive and the legislative branches. That is our view on it.
I believe, as an alternative, what the Committee on Appropriations would like to see is a little more cross-pollination between the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Appropriations and perhaps the Committee on Ways and Means.
I come from the State legislature. I was a member of the Ways and Means Committee of the Georgia legislature for 8 years, and it seemed ridiculous to me when I got here that we split up our budget process into three dynamic committees all with a point of view and yet none of them with the franchise and the final responsibility of getting the job done at the end of the day.
I would like to see us work not just more closely with the Committee on the Budget but actually have some voting influence on each other, and I think there are some things that we can discuss in that vein.
I am also a supporter of a bill by the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Tiahrt) that would set up a BRAC-type Base Realignment and Closure Commission for spending that would sort of pick up some pieces of some of the Grace Commission thoughts, but something of that nature where we could take a step outside the process and say, okay, how do we get this together?
Another alternative is the Istook Balanced Budget Amendment, which I have supported. We need to get that on the floor. We need to get the other body to pass it and the President to put it into law.
We also need to have good old-fashioned fiscal discipline. As the chairman of the Legislative Subcommittee, I am proud I have worked with the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran). We brought in a level funding bill this year; and in addition to that, we had a lot of other reforms, some outsourcing, some privatization, some reduction of committee spending and agency spending, some cuts, real cuts. Not just reductions in the projected increase, but less money than last year. We did that after a lot of debate back and forth. We want the other body to hold the spending on this. I believe that we as a legislative body could have even more cuts. We offered other amendments for cuts, and they were not approved by the committee. But perhaps on the floor we can get those done.
We are in the same church. We are only in a different pew when it comes to controlling spending.