While Congress has an appetite to spend taxpayer dollars in Washington, it lacks the ability to make tough decisions about discretionary spending when it comes to balancing the federal budget. To ensure Congress uses its power of the purse responsibly, we need to pass a balanced budget amendment.
Since I came to Washington in 2013, the House has passed three, two-year budgets that each balanced in ten years. But even though Congress passes a balanced budget, they are not required to keep their spending levels within the funding limits they themselves laid out in the budget, nor are the members of Congress who come after them.
Unfortunately, Congress has not completed all twelve appropriations bills since Fiscal Year 1997. Since the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was passed, Congress has only passed all twelve of its appropriations bills on time four times: Fiscal Years 1977, 1989, 1995, and 1997.
Outside of these four budget cycles, Congress either passed a continuing resolution (CR), which continues spending at the current levels, or an omnibus bill, which bundles several appropriations bills into one big bill.
Despite passing three budgets that balance in ten years, one Congress’s efforts to balance the budget are worthless if they cannot ensure that the next Congress will follow suit.
A budget that balances in 10 years means nothing if Congress cannot mandate that Congress in the years following also balance the budget in the next ten years. New representatives can join Congress and hike spending levels or cut revenue without repercussions.
Enter the need for a balanced budget amendment. In 1995, the national debt stood at $4.9 trillion. Today, it has grown to $21 trillion with no sign of slowing down.
A balanced budget amendment would require that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenue, holding Washington to the same standard as every other American family.
Currently, Congress has no incentive to spend within its means and the American taxpayer suffers the consequences. I fear the United States will never see a balanced budget, unless we pass a balanced budget amendment.
Two weeks ago, the House considered H.J. Res. 2, which proposed a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The vote failed, 233 – 184, as it fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) represents the second district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached through http://mullin.house.gov, and at 3109 Azalea Park Drive, Muskogee, OK, 74401, 918-687-2533 or 202-225-2701