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House Passes FY 2014 Appropriations Bill
I voted yes for the fiscal year 2014 and 2015 budget resolution and the FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill because the benefits outweigh the costs and the compromise avoided another government shutdown. You can read more on my reasons for supporting the budget resolution here.
Moab Tailings and Central Utah Project Completion Act Funded.
The FY 2014 omnibus bill increases funding for the uranium tailings cleanup in Moab to $38 million, up from $30 million in recent years. Because the tailings are a legacy of the Cold War, the federal government has an obligation to remediate the site. Since the tailings are located on the banks of the Colorado River, four states are potentially impacted by the contamination, including Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California as well as Mexico. The omnibus bill also appropriates $8.725 million for the Central Utah Project.
Let's talk about discretionary spending which has been substantially cut since 2010.
The budget and appropriations bills primarily address discretionary spending. Slowing the growth in spending or keeping spending level would be an accomplishment, but we've actually managed to reduce total discretionary spending since Republicans regained control of the House in 2010 despite increases in population, CPI, and GDP. Below are several charts from the House Appropriations Committee that illustrate the cuts to discretionary spending that have occurred in recent years.
Chart 1 shows the significant reduction in total discretionary budget authority since FY2010. Even though the sequester was partially replaced in FY 2014 and FY 2015 (about two-thirds was left intact), total discretionary spending, which includes base spending as well as emergency and war spending, has decreased from $1.275 trillion in FY2010 to $1.111 trillion in FY 2014. As a percent of GDP, total discretionary spending will have decreased from 8.5% in FY2010 to 6.5% in FY2014. This is quite an accomplishment considering Democrats controlled the Senate and the White House.
Base discretionary spending (the blue part in chart 1), which is the main focus of budget resolutions, has decreased from $1.091 trillion in FY2010 to $1.012 trillion in FY2014.
Chart 2 shows increases in discretionary spending in the last couple of years that Democrats controlled Congress and decreases since FY2010 when Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives. From FY 2007 to FY 2010, total discretionary spending increased $210 billion. House Republicans have been able to reverse this trend by cutting spending by $165 billion in FY2014 compared to FY 2010.
Chart 3 shows the total four-year $165 billion reduction in budget authority for each fiscal year from 2010 to 2014. Even if reductions in war spending are excluded, discretionary spending has still decreased signifcantly since 2010.
Chart 4 shows how much smaller the budget authority for FY 2014 is in relation to budget authority in previous years and in comparison to proposals by the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama.
Now let's talk about entitlement spending.
Opponents of the budget bill argue that we have not cut total government spending enough. I agree 100%, but while the budget bill largely addresses discretionary spending like defense, nearly all of the growth in federal government spending will be occurring on the mandatory (entitlement) side of the budget, areas like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In fact, over the next ten years nearly 90% of federal non-interest spending growth will come from entitlement spending. In the long run, discretionary spending is not the major budget threat. Entitlement spending is the long-term problem and needs to be addressed immediately. That's why I proposed a seven-point Social Security reform in 2011 that will slow the growth in Social Security spending. You can read about this proposal here.