On Friday, February 9, Congress passed and the president signed the fifth short-term spending bill since Donald Trump was sworn into office. On average, Congress has funded the government in two month increments over the past year. We’ve become all too familiar with the news headline, “looming government shutdown” every few weeks. In addition to approving another short-term spending bill, Congress also increased deficit spending by $300 billion over the next two years. Deficit spending is money that America doesn’t have so we borrow it. Roughly half of this $300 billion was added to the military budget and half on domestic programs. Here is a breakdown of the spending.
- Military - $165 billion
- Infrastructure - $20 billion
- Insurance company bailout - $10 billion
- Hurricane relief - $90 billion
What’s the problem here? Well, I’ll let Senator Rand Paul tell you.
Prior to this vote, Senator Rand Paul spent several hours on the Senate floor laying out why Republicans are hypocrites and why Congress can’t seem to handle its budgetary dysfunction. Sen. Paul began by saying, "The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, 'How come you were against President Obama's deficits, and then how come you're for Republican deficits?'" Senator Paul went on to say, "When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty."
What Senator Paul is highlighting is that not only is America borrowing a dangerous amount of money that we likely won’t ever pay back but it is happening under a Republican administration.
Our military is in desperate need of an increase in spending but why do we also have to increase domestic spending? The answer is because Democrats won’t increase military spending unless they get an equal amount of increase in welfare spending.
Why is the budget process held hostage by Democrats? Because Senator Mitch McConnell is hanging on to an outdated rule which requires 60 votes in order to pass legislation in the Senate. This means that Republicans, which hold 51 seats, must get 9 Democrats to cross the aisle and vote for all budget bills. How can Mitch McConnell get rid of this rule? If the 51 Republicans in the Senate wanted to they could get rid of the 60 vote rule and pass budgets with a simple majority of 51. Instead of doing this, McConnell and fellow Republicans willingly remain hostage to the demands of Democrats. Why? Because the majority of Republicans in the Senate are not fiscal conservatives. They like irresponsible spending just like the Democrats.
Another problem is that both Republicans and Democrats continually vote to increase spending without cutting spending somewhere else. Any private company or family that wants to increase spending in one area would have to decide where they’re going to take that money from in order to increase spending in another area of their budget. This is basic economics. Instead, Congress fails to cut spending and continually prints money to increase spending each year.
In addition, Republicans in the Senate fail to abide by regular order and pass all 12 necessary spending bills in time. Rather the Senate intentionally waits until the last minute and rams through a jumbo and reckless spending bill every few months. This is all intentional.
Finally, President Trump and others have bought into the narrative that we need more Republicans senators elected in 2018 in order to pass responsible budgets and legislation. We’ve heard this before. In 2010, we were told that Republicans needed a majority in the House. That wish was granted. In 2014, we were told that Republicans needed a majority in the Senate. This wish was granted. In 2016, we were told that Republicans needed the White House so that all of the conservative agenda could be implemented. The voters came through and this wish was granted. Now the establishment Republicans are claiming they need 60 senators in order to get conservative legislation passed.
The only allies that conservatives have in Congress are the House Freedom Caucus and a few senators, most notably Rand Paul. Most other congressmen and senators, many Republican, are in favor of this reckless spending process that Washington seems to repeat on a monthly basis.
Democrats, true to their word, campaign on wasteful spending and keep their promise when they get to Washington. Republicans are the opposite. They campaign on fiscal responsibility yet go to Washington and spend money just like the Democrats.
The key to change in Washington is to monitor how your senator votes. Heritage Action for America has an excellent resource to help constituents track their representatives' vote. Click here to see how your senator voted. Click here to see how your representative voted. In addition, I would highly recommend watching Sen. Paul’s speech on the Senate floor.