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FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT – SPENDING OR BUDGET REFORM?

Picture of Burgess Owens

Burgess Owens

Congressman Representing Utah's Fourth Congressional District, Proud Salt Lake County Resident

In the midst of an exploding National Debt of $31 trillion debt and a trajectory of more to come, Republicans from all segments of our Conference voted Yes for the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA). Among the affirmative votes are many of my Freedom Caucus friends Jim Jordan, Thomas Massie, Majority Green Taylor and others.

Lost in the negotiation clamor was the real purpose of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was to offer a new approach to our broken fiscal system. FRA had a singular purpose… “Spending Reforms”

If the Biden/ McCarthy negotiations were truly addressing our National Debt, it would require a conversation centered around the key drivers responsible for our $4.2 trillion mandatory annual spending. The debate would have to measure the impact of the presently untouchable third rail of out-of-control spending…. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Interest on the debt,  appropriations and tax revenue….In other words, it would have to be a comprehensive conversation about BUDGET REFORM. To judge  the Spending Reforms of FRA in the light of another need, Budget Reform, prevents the recognition of some historic wins.

Our present Federal Budget is broken into three sections…. $4.2 trillion is dedicated to mandatory spending, $1.9 trillion is discretionary and $740 Billion, or 11%, is non-Defense Discretionary. FRA only addresses the 11%….non-Defense discretionary and yet the impact of its spending reforms are cross the board significant.. It’s responsible for the largest rescission of appropriation and the largest spending reduction in US history. The impact of these reforms is listed below.

The premise of FRA was to restore to Congress the mindset that every American family understands. It is one in which discipline, accountability and vision is applied to spending decision. FRA reforms the way Congress spends and returns to the Congressional Appropriation, its constitutional “power of the purse”.  Though far from perfect, this legislation has presented an opportunity to incrementally claw back our freedoms. Thomas Jefferson once said that “the ground of liberty is gained in inches.

FRA’s Spending Reforms has allowed through codified legislation an opportunity to put America’s fiscal house back in order. It has ended the decades of spending chaos, circumvention of Congressional appropriation and the Administration abuse of the legislative fiscal process through pork laden Omnibuses.

One of the unfortunate realities of being in the minority is the acquired habit of legislating caffeine-high hope through Message Bills. These bills offer hope to Conservative constituents that inevitable ends with the predictable defeat of the bill.. During my first term,  I witnessed both the importance and impotence of Message bills. For the Minority party it is an effective way to communicate to their constituents an awareness of their concerns. Unfortunately, message bills will never address real life issues of their constituent’s frustration and concerns because they never become law.

In the Spring of 2022,  I presented a very common sense “message bill” called the Secure Our Students Act. It was designed to prevent the tragedy our nation witnessed later that year in Nashville, Tenn. My bill proposed the use of over $77 billions dollars of unspent COVID funds, already allocated to the states, to be sent to each school district. Using evidence-based solutions each school district could customize how they would harden its school. The districts decisions were to be independent of state mandates and delays.

This common sense Secure our Children Act was not allowed to reach the floor for a vote in the Democrat controlled House. It had NO chance of ever becoming law and therefore my message bill today plays no part in stopping school violence in districts across the country.

If looked at through the prism of its purpose FRA, as a Spending Reform, is a substantial game changer. It has, in many ways, disrupted our present system. Budget Reforms can also experience disruptive innovation but only once the Republican Party controls the House, Senate, and Presidency assuring that Republican bills can become law.. That will be up to “We the People” in 2024.

Here’s a recap of the FRA Spending Reform that is now codified:

-FRA forces Congress to ACT by placing a 99% CAP on government spending from the previous year, until the Congressional Appropriation committee enacts its annual budget.

-FRA places reforms on SNAP and TANF to require work requirements for able-bodied Americans without dependents, up to 56 years old, to get training, education, or jobs. Appling work requirement for Medicaid recipients was a Biden red line, so unfortunately this inclusion will have to wait until 2025.

-FRA reformed NEPA,( National Environmental Policy Act) ..the first time in 40 years. It shortens impact study approval for projects, targeted by environmentalist, from 7-9 years to 1-2 years.

-FRA ends the delay tactics by Biden Administration for student loan repayments. Payments will begin in 60 days of FRA becoming law. Worth more than $5 billion per month.

-FRA has for the first-time decoupled military spending from social spending. This resulted in an increase in veterans support, a 3% increase in military spending and a “substantial” decrease in social spending.

-FRA ensures that the control of spending “power of the purse” is returned to the Congressional Appropriation Committee. Funding for effective programs and defunding for ineffective agencies is controlled here. The Fiscal Responsibility Act is simply a scrimmage. Appropriations is our Super Bowl.

-FRA allows for measurable accountability of Congress to the American people. This Fall, Congressional Appropriators will prioritize its funding of programs and agencies strategically and with transparency. An educated and informed  American people will have the opportunity to see what a responsive and “working” Congress finally looks like.

This journey began with a small but united majority Republican Conference that, against all odds, passed the Limit, Save, Grow bill. Through a divided Conference passage of the Fiscal Responsibility  Act, we now have historic spending and appropriation recission reductions. More important, the FRA has unleashed the funding & defunding “Power of the Purse” through the Republican controlled Appropriation Committee.

Stay tuned my friends…“the ground of liberty is gained in inches.”

1 thought on “Fiscal Responsibility Act – Spending or Budget Reform?”

  1. Too much money is thrown at schools, misused by schools, and left for school management! Clearly flawed thinking due to the complete lack of accountability by schools and administrators.
    Under school administrator supervision, which isn’t accountable to parents nor any common sense standards, children are being taught to choose which gender they want, how to pick-organize-promote riots, and anything BUT reading, writing, and arithmetic.
    Clearly, schools AND politicians have lost focus on aiding/teaching constituents/kids laws/subjects that’ll help people succeed as adults. So, rather than seeking more money or finding more money, cut spending and show you can do what’s best for the country not a special interest group. STOP LETTING THE TAIL WAG THE DOG!!!

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