By Brandon Moseley
Wednesday, May 25, the Republican controlled US House of Representatives passed the Republican budget resolution. Several members of the Alabama Congressional delegation commented on the budget proposal.
Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) said in a statement, "We face a fiscal crisis in America. We spend more than we earn and then try to pretend deficits don't matter. Our national debt is now over $18 trillion, and the deficit is set to rise massively in coming years due to structural problems with Medicare, Social Security, and other entitlement programs. Because of this, righting our fiscal ship is one of my top priorities."
The Budget Resolution increased critical funding for national defense. This was a key component of the budget that US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) strongly pushed for in negotiations. Rep. Roby said the budget is not perfect, but protects Fort Rucker, military from sequestration cuts: "I'm pleased to report this Budget Resolution funds the military at necessary levels and allows us to prevent unfair sequestration cuts that could severely harm readiness. I appreciate Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price for listening to the concerns we had about military funding and allowing a process wherein we could vote to secure greater funding."
U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said, "The budget proposal I supported includes appropriate funding for our Nation's military. We cannot accept the dangerous sequestration cuts to national defense as reality, and I was proud to work with Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry and my colleagues to pass an amendment that would restore defense funding to necessary levels."
Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said, "As Chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, I've had the chance to deal directly with many of our most important defense programs meant to defend us against some of our worst enemies' attacks on our homeland like Iran, Russia and North Korea. My subcommittee has held many hearings recently on funding for programs like our missile defense. During a recent hearing, Vice Admiral Jim Syring, Director, Missile Defense Agency, responded to a question regarding what funding cuts mean for the Department of Defense when it comes to defending our homeland. Part of Syring's response warned, " with the development and testing that I see going on with North Korea -- very specifically -- and the pace and progress that they're making, I'm in serious jeopardy without those improvements going to NORTHCOM Commander and advising him that the system is over-matched."
Representative Rogers said, ""Over-matched' is not a word I ever want associated with our military capabilities. And being outdone by a country that doesn't play by the rules, like North Korea, is unacceptable. Whether you are in East Alabama, or anywhere in America, our country's defense budget is not only important to the folks at these facilities but also to the health of our national defense. Rest assured that I will work tirelessly to ensure our defense budget is always sufficient to adequately fund our military so that no adversary on the planet will ever over-match our forces."
The House Budget Resolution that came out of committee would have set base military spending at sequestration levels, while creating a special account to provide more funding conditional if future savings became available. That proposal failed. The House then adopted an amended budget proposal that made sure no military spending was contingent on future savings that may or may not be realized.
The House Budget Resolution sets defense spending at $619 billion. That total includes $96 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, which is used to fund conflicts across the globe.
Normally there would be one number for defense; but because the sequestration law caps base defense spending, the OCO funding will supplement readiness operations and other military activities that would typically be funded in the base budget. Rep. Roby said that this maneuver is not ideal, but was necessary under the circumstances to get defense funding to proper levels.
Congresswoman Roby said, "I voted against the law that created sequestration, and I continue to advocate changing it to treat our military fairly. But, we still have a responsibility to make sure our military has the training and resources it needs to meet global threats." Roby warned, "The threat from ISIS is growing every day. Russia is increasingly aggressive. We don't know what will happen with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. In a dangerous world, we cannot allow the ill-advised sequestration law to keep us from properly funding national defense."
Representative Palmer said, "This budget was not perfect. I believe this budget, like the Republican Study Committee budget which I also supported, could have been more aggressive in fixing our fiscal problems. However, this budget creates a framework for reducing the size and scope of government by proposing serious reforms that steer us in the right direction. It repeals Obamacare, strengthens Medicare by providing market incentives for both better and less expensive care, lifts the ban on crude oil exports and creates work requirements for welfare. The House should act on each of these provisions and fully implement the budget. If this is done, I believe that the savings and economic growth that will occur as a result will exceed projections and further contribute to fixing the federal deficit and debt."
Congressman Byrne said, "It is a basic responsibility of Congress to pass a budget each year that reflects our national priorities. That's exactly what the House did today in passing a budget that puts our nation on a path to fiscal sanity without raising taxes."
Rep. Palmer said, "I applaud the leadership of Chairman Tom Price and the hard work of the Budget Committee and Budget Committee staff in creating this budget and I hope we continue on the path of shrinking the size and scope of the federal government while empowering Americans to live up to their full potential."
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner (R-Ohio) applauded the House passage of the FY 2016 House Republican budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 27): "Today, the House passed a pro-growth, balanced budget that establishes a stark contrast between our vision for the future, and that of the president. Instead of drowning our kids in a sea of red ink, we cut more than $5 trillion in spending and balance the budget within a decade. Instead of taking money out of the economy with more than $2 trillion in tax hikes, we call for reforming the entire tax code to make it simpler and fairer. And instead of shirking responsibility for entitlement reform, we offer a plan to strengthen and protect these programs for seniors and future generations. With additional proposals to cut red tape and boost American energy, our budget lays the foundation for more robust economic growth and more American jobs. I want to thank Chairman Price and the members of the Budget Committee for their hard work in advancing a balanced budget for a stronger economy and a safer America."
The Budget Resolution sets Congress' general framework for taxing and spending, which is to be filled in later with specific provisions, including tax policy and appropriations titles. The Budget Resolution is not binding and doesn't become law. It is important as an agreed-to set of priorities and principles. The House Budget Proposal is titled, "A Balanced Budget for a Strong America." The plan if it were implemented projects that it would balance the budget in less than 10 years without raising taxes. The budget submitted by President Barack Obama (D) does not show the budget balancing at any point, even with massive tax increases.
Rep. Byrne said, "Unlike President Obama's budget, which never balances, our budget achieves balance in less than ten years with serious reforms to mandatory spending and cuts to wasteful spending programs. Our budget strengthens and preserves Social Security and Medicare to ensure they are solvent for future generations."