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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

From the Front: US Representative Steve Womack - July 22, 2022

As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee—where I serve as the Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee and also sit on the Defense and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittees—it’s always my priority to responsibly fund the government.

That’s why I rose on the House floor to speak out against the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bills in their current form.

The bills we debated were packed with unjustifiable spending that ignores the government’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory and the historic level of inflation burdening all Americans.

And we should be fixing that, not making it worse.

As the pandemic wanes and inflation soars, I was hoping that we could begin reducing spending. Instead, the Financial Services division of this bill increases discretionary spending by over 17 percent.

Many programs in the bill get double-digit percentage increases, and some get triple-digit percentage increases. For example, the bill provides:

  • 433 percent increase for election grants

  • 20 percent increase for the White House

  • 30 percent increase for the Federal Trade Commission.

  • $1 billion increase for the IRS

  • $1.6 billion increase for the GSA

These increases are unconscionable when considering the U.S.’s historically high debt – now in excess of $30 trillion – and inflation over 9 percent. The combination of debt and inflation places a heavy burden on future generations of Americans.

We should be fixing that.

One of the larger questions about these bills should be how these topline numbers were decided.

We allowed the four corners of leadership to dictate these topline numbers. They didn't come out of a budget process. And we have a budget committee over here whose purpose is, in part, to do that very thing.

But that didn’t happen. So, we kick out numbers that we won't agree to. It wasn’t through a budget process, where we could define our priorities—the emerging needs of our country—and come to some agreement through a legitimate budget process.

It is long since time that we stop this process of doing deeming resolutions or burying topline numbers in rule bills and get back to the process that is laid out for us.

And that is to do a budget resolution—both House and Senate—to get to some kind of agreement and then establish an appropriate appropriations process where we can do these bills individually.

There are 12. And we're going to do six today, and then we're going to discuss six later, but we ought to be doing them individually.

And we ought to give the members of Congress an opportunity because it is our Article One responsibility. We need to be giving the members of Congress the ability to input on these bills and not just let the four corners of leadership decide what we're going to do or what we're not going to do.

Congressman Womack outlines the fiscally irresponsible and unprecedented spending levels of the majority party’s proposal, notes the impact of rapid inflation, and calls for House and Senate leaders to come together to amend the package and reach a bipartisan compromise.

I worked hard to amend these bills before the final vote. If you followed previous newsletters, you know I offered and advocated for amendments to fix currently unworkable proposals. Unfortunately, a majority of these were rejected by party-line votes. So, given all the issues and partisan riders, I opposed the Democrats’ six-bill minibus spending package.

The vote was an unfortunate exercise in futility. When a continuing resolution is all but guaranteed after the consideration of appropriations legislation, you have failed. The proposal is fiscally irresponsible and endorses a list of liberal priorities. Both sides know it will never become law in current form.

With debt in excess of $30 trillion and inflation making it harder for Americans to make ends meet, we can’t further mortgage taxpayers and future generations. I continue to stand ready to work with my Democrat colleagues to make appropriate adjustments and deliver on our core duty to responsibly fund the government.

This wasn’t the only hyper-partisan vote on the floor. This week, I am sure you heard of proposals Democrats put on the floor pertaining to marriage and contraception. These are both personal and emotional issues.

Let me be clear: the Supreme Court has made clear that nobody's marriage is under threat. The majority opinion in the Dobbs decision further recognized that these precedents are not in question. Insinuating otherwise is not only inaccurate, but it’s also blatant fearmongering. Furthermore, protecting women’s health and safeguarding conscience protections for medical professionals should never be a partisan issue.

It’s why I voted to consider H.R. 8428 and am a cosponsor of the Access to Safe Contraception Act, which responsibly ensures proper access to contraception without weaponizing unfounded hysteria and trampling religious liberties.

The American people deserve better than scare tactics used for political gain. With inflation at its highest since 1981—and crisis after crisis hurting the nation—Democrats are desperately resorting to cruel and unfounded claims to try and distract from their failed agenda.

On a positive note, the House did find some consensus on one of my cosponsored bills. H.Res. 1130, which shows support for the sovereign decision of Finland and Sweden to apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and calls on all members of NATO to ratify the protocols of accession swiftly, passed the House.

Putin repeatedly declared NATO can’t expand. He wanted less, so the world is giving him more. Bringing Sweden and Finland into this alliance strengthens transatlantic security and our commitment to preserving freedom. America and our European partners won’t bow to the whims of an evil dictator. Collective leadership in the face of tyranny is a necessary tool.

I will be back in Washington next week for legislative business. While I would hope the last week of in-session legislative time before the August in-district work period would be dedicated to the so many real crises facing the American people, ranging from high gas prices to crippling inflation, it’s likely the majority party will continue to put forward messaging bills, since they control the schedule.

My priority remains policies that help people provide for their families, support the ability of Arkansans to put food on their tables and gas in their cars, grow our economy, and secure our nation.

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