FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our bill of the month for June 2018 is H.Res. 919, sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). The resolution, which has 36 cosponsors, would recognize that our unsustainable national debt poses a true threat to the security of our country. This simple fact is too often ignored by those who claim to be fiscal conservatives, yet use increased defense funding as an excuse to vote for higher and higher spending levels each year.
In March of this year, 145 Republican members of the House voted to pass the atrocious $1.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, or omnibus, which appropriated above the established discretionary spending caps by nearly $300 billion over two years. In its wake, laudatory statements from these members abounded, touting the success of the government funding bill and specifically highlighting the astronomically high defense spending levels.
However, as we wrote about in March, and will write about until a balanced budget is achieved, Congress cannot outspend the security threat of the national debt. It is this that Rep. Biggs’ resolution seeks for Congress to affirm, and this that so many self-proclaimed conservatives ignore.
This is not a new concept. In fact, it has been discussed for years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, starting with the Obama administration. Our national debt has doubled in the nine years since President Obama first took office until now, from $10.6 trillion to $21.1 trillion. In the nine years prior to his presidency, the national debt grew at less than half of that rate.
Most of this rapid increase is due to an explosion in mandatory spending, including welfare and entitlement programs that were expanded during Obama’s presidency, as well as an aging population that puts pressure on Medicare and Social Security costs. This rapidly increasing debt as a result poses a threat to our country not only domestically, but abroad.
As Rep. Biggs’ resolution points to, numerous government officials have expressed the same concern that an unsustainable national debt undermines U.S. credibility abroad and threatens the security functions of our military. In 2010, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen said, “the single, biggest threat to our national security is debt.” As recently as April of this year, Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified to Congress, “any nation that can’t keep its fiscal house in order eventually cannot maintain its military power.”
It is offensive that members of Congress are so afraid of tackling the very obvious mandatory spending problem for fear of losing reelection that they will not do the one thing that will most ensure our men and women in uniform are best prepared to tackle new and existing threats. Not only do these members claim fiscal responsibility in name only, but oftentimes they claim support for the troops in name only as well. Throwing money at the military does not ensure readiness. Only long-term fiscal sanity can do this in a lasting way.
This resolution would recognize all of these very real problems, including the security threat of the national debt and the irresponsibility of running the country on deficits. It would commit the House to restoring regular order in the appropriations process to avoid another omnibus like the one passed this year. More importantly, it would commit the House to address the fiscal crisis through a balanced budget, which would by its nature require addressing mandatory spending.
There are many options out there to do just this, such as Rep. Mark Sanford’s (R-S.C.) One Percent Spending Reduction Act, H.R. 5572, or any number of strong constitutional amendments offered by members in this Congress to require a balanced budget. Rep. Sanford, along with many of those who have introduced balanced budget amendments, including Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), and Dave Brat (R-Va.), are cosponsors of Rep. Biggs’ resolution as well.
Congress must must right the fiscal situation of our nation if we are to have long-term security and a successful, well-prepared, and credible military. It starts with, as provided for in H.Res. 919, a simple recognition that the current fiscal situation is in fact a true security threat and mandates real congressional action.