Congressman Andy Barr released the following statement regarding his vote in support of The Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Washington, D.C.— “The debt ceiling agreement, while far from perfect, ends the most recent era of reckless government spending, imposes limits on deficits and Executive Branch overreach, and advances, in incremental but important ways, the goal of fiscal responsibility. Because those outcomes are far better than the unrestrained status quo, a clean debt limit increase or a default, I voted for the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
First, what I don’t like about the agreement:
The caps on discretionary spending are too modest given the $10 trillion increase in spending during the first two years of the Biden administration and our growing $32 trillion national debt. Also, while the deal places hard statutory caps on spending for the first two years of the agreement, there are no firm caps on spending in 2026 and beyond. Statutory caps for the duration of the agreement would strengthen the bill. Finally, the agreement only cuts non-defense discretionary spending, less than 15 percent of total annual spending, and it fails, yet again, to enact the major reforms to autopilot mandatory spending needed to save the country from bankruptcy.
The bill does not include my bipartisan Fiscal State of the Nation legislation, a modest measure endorsed by the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that would require the Comptroller of the United States to annually address a joint session of Congress on the fiscal realities of our debt burden, which Moody’s recently described as the “least affordable…among AAA-rated sovereigns and G-7 countries.”
I am also disappointed, but not surprised, that President Biden rejected our proposal to enact the REINS Act to require congressional approval of all major administrative regulations before they go into effect. President Biden’s refusal to agree to work requirements for able-bodied, work-capable adults on Medicaid is also a missed opportunity for Americans who deserve the dignity of self-sufficiency and a good paying job rather than government dependency. In addition, the final agreement excluded the provisions in the Limit, Save and Grow Act which would have repealed the distortionary green energy tax credits and enacted H.R. 1 to unleash American energy dominance once again.
Finally, I do not like the fact that the bill pushes the debt limit beyond the next election; a 2024 limit would have given Republicans a second opportunity to enact more spending restraints before the presidential election.
All of that said, let me share what I do like about the agreement, and why I voted for it:
The agreement is far better than the status quo - which has no spending caps in place - and it is obviously better than an unconditional increase in the debt limit, since the bill, in fact, averts default by limiting inflationary spending, reining in government overreach, and lifting Americans out of poverty.
Specifically, the deal cuts $2.1 trillion in spending over the six-year life of the bill, and $1.5 trillion in statutorily mandated savings over the next two years. It claws back remaining unobligated COVID funds to the tune of $28 billion and rescinds $1.4 billion in funding provided for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is the full amount of funds for FY 2023 in the Democrats’ spending plan for new IRS agents and non-taxpayer services. The bill also slashes $400 million from the CDC "Global Health Fund" that sends taxpayer money to China. Together, these cuts constitute the single largest rescission of federal spending in American history.
It cuts discretionary spending, excluding defense and veterans’ health care, to below FY 2022 levels. Specifically, the legislation reduces non-defense discretionary spending by $42 billion and overall discretionary spending by $12 billion in FY 2024 compared to currently enacted levels. In so doing, it breaks a long-held Democrat demand for dollar-for-dollar parity between defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
One of the most significant wins in the deal for fiscal conservatives is a provision to impose an automatic 1% across the board reduction in discretionary spending if lawmakers fail to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills by January 1st.
It enacts into law the first ever statutory Administrative Pay-Go to hold President Biden accountable for the full cost of executive rules and regulations, which should save taxpayers trillions. (In the first two and a half years alone, Biden’s executive actions have totaled over $1.5 trillion in spending.)
The legislation includes reforms to TANF and SNAP that limit the ability of states to abuse their authority to waive existing work requirements. It expands work requirements for SNAP to able bodied adults without dependents up to age 55. This will increase overall workforce participation, help economic growth, and reduce dependency on taxpayer funded welfare.
The bill will statutorily end President Biden’s moratorium on student loan repayment, which is currently costing taxpayers roughly $5 billion per month and has been extended eight times by the administration.
It provides the first significant statutory reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act since 1982, including project threshold, interagency coordination, and review deadlines to prevent project delay, limits on what qualifies as a major federal action, and limits to prevent agencies from missing statutory deadlines. This will help expedite approval and construction of major domestic energy production and transmission projects, which in turn will help boost economic growth.
Finally, the bill averts a default, which would result in a downgrade of the credit rating of U.S. government securities, increasing borrowing costs, mandatory interest payments, and our overall debt. A default would also enable the Chinese Communist Party to exploit a credit rating downgrade to encourage other nations to transact in the yuan, rather than the dollar, furthering the CCP’s ongoing malign efforts to weaken the dollar’s status as the world’s dominant reserve currency.
This deal does not implement all of the reforms needed to rein in spending, reduce the deficit or avert a debt crisis. But it is a step in the right direction. And because the alternative would be a clean debt ceiling increase with no reforms, or a default which would worsen our debt outlook, I support this incremental but important measure to advance fiscal responsibility. This is a good outcome considering that Republicans control neither the White House nor the Senate and control the House by only a four vote margin."