House of Representatives
Last night, Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) withdrew from consideration his substitute amendment to the FY 2012 budget resolution that will be voted on today. His remarks submitted for the Congressional Record (presented in full below) explain his reasoning for withdrawing the measure and make the case for bipartisan, comprehensive action. Rep. Cooper is to be applauded for stepping up and improving the budget debate while building more momentum toward bipartisan action on the debt and deficit.
The House and Senate today approved of legislation funding the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, ratifying the agreement reached late last week that averted a government shutdown. For good measure, lawmakers flirted with one more deadline as the “bridge CR” that has been financing government operations since last Friday night’s last-minute deal was set to expire tomorrow.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, has released his own budget proposal to counter that of Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Van Hollen's plan reaches primary balance in 2018 by reducing the deficit by over $1.2 trillion more than President Obama's official FY 2012 budget proposal. The Van Hollen budget:
Considering its role as the biggest driver of long-term deficits and debt, health spending has to be addressed in any serious long-term budget plan. And to Rep. Paul Ryan's credit, he has definitely done that in his FY 2012 budget proposal. There are numerous provisions in the proposal that deal with federal health care spending. Let's go through them:
House GOP Budget Unveiled – On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, titled “The Path to Prosperity.” It is the Republican response to the White House budget released last month. The House Budget Committee will mark-up the bill today in an all-day session with the goal of voting on the House floor next week.
Yesterday, Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced H.R. 1252, the “Medicare Information Act” (MedInfo Act). The legislation aims to better inform taxpayers about their individual Medicare contributions and benefits by including information in a yearly statement they already receive about Social Security. The overview of the bill states:
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.
UPDATE: The Senate passed the House three-week CR by a vote of 87-13, with nine Republicans and four Democrats opposing. President Obama will sign the CR on Friday. Lawmakers now have until Friday April 8 to reach an agreement on funding for the rest of the fiscal year.
Everyone can recognize that the budget process is broken, but unfortunately not much has been done so far to fix it. Work such as the Peterson-Pew Commission's report, Getting Back in the Black, offers some great solutions for moving forward. It seems that policymakers may finally be waking up to these ideas. Today we will see two interesting developments that may help build momentum for budget process reform in the near future.