GOP Congressman: ‘Impose Penalties’ to ‘Force Congress to Handle the Budget Appropriately’

By Craig Millward | July 29, 2019 | 2:16pm EDT
Rep. Garret Graves
(Screenshot)

(CNSNews.com)- Speaking on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) said that federal spending and the federal debt are reaching “crisis proportions,” and that he strongly supports “penalties” – like withholding pay in order to “force Congress to handle the budget appropriately.”

“I’ll tell you something that I strongly support, I believe that we should actually impose penalties on members of Congress. It is our job to negotiate these bills,” Graves said, objecting to a House-passed budget bill that would increase spending limits and suspend debt limits.

Members of Congress should be held to the same standard as executives in the private section, when it comes to compensation, Rep. Graves said:

“It is our job to set the budget for the federal government. I think, if we’re unable to do that, I think that we should not be paid. It is our job. People in the private sector are paid for performance. I think that scenario should be what we do at the federal level to put that appropriate pressure on Congress to ensure it does its job. There are not enough penalties in place to force Congress to handle the budget appropriately.”

Graves was asked by CQ Roll Call reporter Ben Hulac “Congressman, give us a sense with the backdrop on this vote on the debt, what the Republican strategy to lowering the federal debt is. What is the medium term, long term plan here?”

“This is certainly reaching, I think, crisis proportions,” Graves responded, noting how spending on Democrat proposals like Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal would exacerbate the problem:

“You have a debt in excess of $21 [trillion]. You see proposals out there like Medicare-for-All, they’re going to add over 30 trillion to it. You have proposals like Green New Deal projected to add over 90 trillion to it. This is crazy. One of the things that we’ve got to do, in fact we’ve met with folks just this week and last week talking about better ways of valuing the public benefits of different federal investments.

“Everyone knows that you can look back at the percentage of the budget that’s attributable to mandatory spending programs, programs that are not subject to annual congressional appropriations processes. That has exceeded far in excess of 70 percent of the overall budget, up from percentages as low as in the upper teens or even the low 20 percentile range decades ago. We have to attack the mandatory spending side. We’ve got to make sure that we apply criteria that actually looks at the value generated from these investments just like any private company would do, just like a family at home would do.

“I’ll tell you something that I strongly support: I believe that we should actually impose penalties on members of Congress. It is our job to negotiate these bills. It is our job to set the budget for the federal government. I think, if we’re unable to do that, I think that we should not be paid. It is our job. People in the private sector are paid for performance. I think that scenario should be what we do at the federal level to put that appropriate pressure on Congress to ensure it does its job. There are not enough penalties in place to force Congress to handle the budget appropriately.”

Last week, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 passed the House by a 284-149 vote. Rep. Graves voted against it.

According to the summary of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, the bill increases spending limits and suspends debt limits:

“[I]ncreases discretionary spending limits, suspends the debt limit, and modifies budget enforcement procedures.”

“The bill increases the FY2020 and FY2021 discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending.

“The bill also (1) specifies limits for Overseas Contingency Operations funding, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits; and (2) requires the FY2020 discretionary spending limits to be adjusted to accommodate specified funding for the 2020 Census.”

“The bill suspends the public debt limit through July 31, 2021. On August 1, 2021, the limit will be increased to accommodate obligations issued during the suspension period.”

 

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