After Year of Budget Talks, House Freshman Take Action to End the Gimmicks & Tricks

February 1, 2012
Press Release

Rep. Martha Roby and Sen. Jeff Sessions Host Capitol Hill Press Conference Marking Introduction of the Honest Budget Act of 2012

A group of more than 25 conservative House freshmen, led by Representative Martha Roby of Alabama, joined forces today to put an end to the budget gimmicks and procedural trickery that Washington too often uses to hide federal spending and run up the debt.

Roby and her freshman House colleagues, joined by Senator Jeff Sessions and a group of key budget-minded senators, gathered today at a Capitol Hill press conference to mark the introduction of the Honest Budget Act of 2012. Sessions, top Republican of the Senate Budget Committee, offered similar legislation in the Senate last year.

Roby’s bill would give rank-and-file House members greater authority to challenge the nine most commonly used budget gimmicks found in the budget and appropriations process. Experts estimate that these gimmicks have accounted for more than $350 billion in new spending since 2005.

“My constituents are frustrated with the dysfunction in Washington. Working families and small business owners are miffed that Congress can’t pass a budget or spend within its means. They see politicians talk about budget savings and future spending cuts that never materialize,” Roby said. “The American people deserve a government that shoots straight, and they want a budget that is reliable, genuine, and accountable. The Honest Budget Act takes Sen. Sessions’ commonsense approach to the problem and extends it to the House of Representatives, where revenue and spending bills are first considered.”

Among other provisions, the Honest Budget Act would make it harder for Congress to pass spending bills without first passing a budget, would reveal the real cost and commitment of federal government spending, and would prevent Congress from claiming savings unless those savings are real and genuine.

The bill’s introduction, which comes amid three years of soaring deficits and $15 trillion in national debt, marks a milestone in the education of many freshmen legislators, who were swept into Congress last year on a tide of anti-Washington sentiment.

Since their arrival, the freshman class has consistently pushed for deeper spending cuts, less regulation, and a harder line against efforts to raise taxes and expand government power. But after a year of budget battles, many have witnessed firsthand the nuances of the budget process that can be exploited to hide federal spending.

Roby said that the Honest Budget Act is a direct response to the problems she and her colleagues have witnessed over the last year.

“Congress, as an institution, is a sick patient. We learned over the last year that the House and Senate are plagued by loopholes and gimmicks that are deeply engrained in the rules of the two chambers. Exploiting those gimmicks is widely accepted and has become commonplace,” Roby said. “Honesty, accountability, and transparency are the cure—and the Honest Budget Act is one way to deliver that medicine.”

At the press conference today, Roby was joined by more than 20 Members of her House Republican Freshman class.

In addition to Sessions, a number of Senators spoke in support of the legislation.

Roby’s bill is H.R. 3844. In the Senate, Sessions’ legislation is S. 1651.

# # #