Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
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Congress Should Pass a Budget, Not Deem Huge Spending Increases

Jun 14, 2021 | Budgets & Projections

For Immediate Release

Recent press reports indicate that the House of Representatives may vote on a “deeming resolution” as soon as this week to set the topline level for appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022. Reports also indicate plans for passing a “shell” budget later in the year for the sole purpose of providing reconciliation instructions to fast track legislation instead of passing a real budget resolution. If set at the levels in President Biden’s budget, as reported, the increase in nondefense appropriations would set the stage for adding $600 billion to the ten-year budget deficit. Below is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Deeming discretionary levels should be a last resort, not a first resort. With a unified government, Congress has absolutely no excuse for not passing a budget.

A budget is a statement of priorities – to fail to budget is to fail to govern. Yet almost two months past the legal deadline for Congress to finish a budget, neither the House nor the Senate Budget Committees have released so much as a draft. After putting forward a budget nearly every year since 1998, this could be the third year in a row where the House fails to even introduce a real budget resolution. This is a clear-cut failure of leadership, and it is no way to run a country.

Instead, the plan seems to be to enact a massive increase in nondefense discretionary spending with no plan to pay for it – which could cost us hundreds of billions if continued over the decade – while passing a meaningless shell budget to facilitate trillions more in tax and spending changes.

Governing is about leading and being honest with the public about your policy priorities. It would be the height of irresponsibility for Congress to move forward with hundreds of billions or trillions in policy changes without even trying to pass a real budget plan to show the country how these policies fit into our fiscal future.

With the debt approaching record levels, the American people deserve to know how Congress is going to spend their money and how much more they intend to borrow.

Rather than deeming huge spending increases financed by borrowing and without a budget, Congress should pass a budget with reasonable and responsible discretionary levels. Lawmakers should also extend the current discretionary spending caps, which expire at the end of this year.

As the country gets back to work, it’s time for Congress to do its job and pass a budget.

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For more information, please contact Ben Tomchik, deputy chief of staff, at tomchik@crfb.org.