U.S. Rep. Martha Roby adopts Sen. Jeff Sessions' budget fight
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions' proposal to eliminate accounting gimmicks in the federal budget process has languished in the Senate since last year so today he encouraged a group of House Republican freshmen to take the lead.
The House version of the Honest Budget Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery.
"American deserves a government that shoots straight," said Roby at a Capitol Hill press conference with about 25 Republican House and Senate members.
The bills from Sessions and Roby accommodate different rules in the House and Senate, but they target the same accounting techniques that have been used by both parties over the years to make federal budget appear less costly. The legislation has been applauded by several government budget watchdog organizations.
In sum, the Honest Budget Act would: make it harder for Congress to pass appropriations bills before the budget is adopted; make it harder for Congress to declare something an emergency to justify extra spending; calculate the potential cost of government loan guarantee programs, not just the potential benefit; make it harder to claim budget savings by delaying certain spending for one year; bar Congress from counting unspent leftover funds as permission to spend the money elsewhere; reinstate a ban on giving advance funding to certain programs; make it harder to sidestep the rules requiring programs to stay within certain spending limits over five years; and count transfers from the general fund to the highway trust fund as extra costs, not neutral. It would also suspend the automatic pay raises that some federal employees receive that are not included in the current two-year pay freeze.
Sessions' staff argues that had the rules been in effect since 2005, Congress would have spent $422 billion less. Members acknowledged that it would not eliminate the $15 trillion debt, but that it was a matter of integrity.
"This is not the answer to all of our problems, we know that," Roby said. "It's the tip of the iceberg, but sometimes the first step is the hardest."
Sessions bill was introduced in October but it has not been given a hearing in committee. There are no Democratic cosponsors of the House or Senate bill.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, also attended the press conference with Roby and Sessions.
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