House of Representatives
Today the House Budget Committee convened a hearing on the burden of mounting national debt on the country and how to address it. The committee heard from a panel of four witnesses, including CRFB President Maya MacGuineas.
Lots of Stopgaps, Little in Closing the Fiscal Gap – Washington averted a government shutdown last week by agreeing on a two-week continuing resolution (CR) that cuts $4 billion in spending. This is the fifth stopgap measure funding the federal government since the 2011 fiscal year began on October 1, 2010. The posturing and procrastination so far have resulted in little in the way of reducing our mounting national debt.
Shutting Down Versus Sitting Down – Congress returns to Washington this week after lawmakers spent last week back home. Just before leaving town the House of Representatives passed legislation funding the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year that slashes spending by about $60 billion compared to current levels.
UPDATE 3/1: House passes two-week CR by vote of 335-91. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says that the bill will be taken up in the Senate and is likely to be passed within the next 48 hours.
With the current CR for FY 2011 coming to an end March 4, both parties in Congress are issuing short term plans to avoid a government shutdown, or at least to have political cover in case the government is shuttered.
After four marathon sessions and hundreds of amendments the House of Representatives approved of legislation, H.R. 1, which will cut spending in the final seven months of FY 2011. However, while the course the bill traveled in the House was precarious, the rest of the path it must travel is downright impassable. Meanwhile, time is dwindling for Washington to avert a government shutdown.
Day of Leaders – Today we celebrate great American leaders with mattress sales and a day off (for some) from work. Congress left town for the whole week. We at the Bottom Line honor the day by calling for the type of leadership embodied by the likes of Washington and Lincoln in dealing with our fiscal challenges. Last week both the White House and Capitol Hill put forth proposals that have much to be desired, meanwhile a bipartisan group of senators is negotiating on the type of comprehensive solution that the nation needs.
In their reaction to the President's FY 2012 budget proposal, the House Republican leadership has been very critical of the President's reluctance to use this opportunity to address the true drivers of our mounting debt -- the largest of which being entitlements. And now, Republicans have pledged to take up this daunting challenge.
Share the Love – Today’s the big day: messages will be sent, some will be showered with love, and others will feel left out. Of course, today is Budget Day, with the White House releasing its Fiscal Year 2012 budget request. [We also have a nagging feeling we should be sending flowers to loved ones for some reason.] The release of the budget will set off a debate over priorities and fiscal responsibility for next year.