Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would force Congress to hold an up-or-down vote on the President's proposed terminations and reductions each year. The President submits recommendations for program cuts in each annual budget proposal, but Congress rarely acts on them. This initiative would allow the White House to send a yearly package of proposed terminations and reductions to Congress that would be voted on without amendment. This year's proposal would save approximately $20 billion annually.
In his press release, Rep. Peters states:
“There’s a lot of talk in Washington about cutting the deficit and it’s time for action. If the Administration identifies federal programs that can be cut, then Congress shouldn’t be allowed to keep ignoring them. Even if the bill doesn’t pass, forcing Congress to take an up-or-down vote will lead to debate on wasteful programs and spending that Congress has ignored for years.
"The potential for savings is very real. The most recent list of cuts included $228 million in savings by reducing subsidy payments to wealthy farmers, $138 million in savings by eliminating payments to states for mine-reclamation projects that have already concluded, and $75 million in annual cuts to election reform grants – a program that already has approximately $1 billion in unspent money in reserve."
We applaud Rep. Peter's leadership in support of fiscally responsible initiatives. CRFB President Maya MacGuineas has publicly supported the idea, saying:
“The ‘Terminations, Reductions and Savings’ recommended by OMB represent the lowest of the low-hanging fruit in tackling the national debt, yet all too often Congress ignores them. While this bill alone won’t solve our fiscal problems, it will help Washington get serious about deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility.”
Representatives Peters and Gardner have already worked together to introduce a different bill to force Congress to cut wasteful and duplicative spending by requiring Congressional committees to hold hearings on the issue. The recent report from GAO has useful suggestions in that vein. As Maya said, these proposals will not be the cure-all for our ailing fiscal outlook, but they are important steps to promote fiscally responsible decisions. These proposals are a necessary first step and are critical for promoting effective government and public trust.