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Getting Serious About Cutting Wasteful Spending

By Sen. John Thune

June 2, 2023

The need to address the federal budget has only grown more urgent as the Biden administration has racked up trillions of dollars in more debt in the last two years alone. Recognizing that this level of spending is irresponsible and unsustainable, the American people elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives last year as a check on the president’s policies and Democrats’ reckless spending. Although the president tried to avoid negotiating budget cuts for over three months, Republicans were intent on restoring fiscal sanity to Washington. Divided government requires compromise, and the spending reform deal that Speaker McCarthy negotiated shows what can be achieved when both sides work together.

The bill they agreed to, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, delivers on Republicans’ promise to rein in excess federal spending. It reduces the deficit by $1.5 trillion through spending cuts and by restoring budget caps – all without raising taxes. The Fiscal Responsibility Act also claws back more previously allocated federal funds than any other bill in American history, rescinding tens of billions of dollars in unused COVID funding. And it begins to chip away at the unnecessary influx of money that would have gone to hiring new IRS agents.  

Equally as important as limits on spending are the common-sense policies in the bill that limit the size of government. The Fiscal Responsibility Act strengthens work requirements in federal assistance programs to ensure those who are able can move from welfare to work. It makes a down payment on permitting reform that will help get energy projects off the ground more quickly, encourage domestic energy production, and lower costs for American families. And it creates zero new federal programs.

This is not a perfect bill, but these cuts and reforms are important steps in changing the trajectory of the federal budget. At $31 trillion, our national debt is larger than the entire economy, and it continues to grow at an unsustainable rate. Just paying the interest on the debt is taking up an enormous share of the budget. In a few years, unless additional responsible fiscal policies are enacted, interest payments will exceed what we spend on national defense. Think about that – we’re on pace to spend more money on interest payments than what we spend to maintain our top-tier armed forces and other defense capabilities. And it’s out-of-control spending that is driving these concerning trends and jeopardizing our future prosperity.

The policies in this bill won’t magically correct years of wasteful spending, but they are meaningful reforms and spending cuts that mark an important step toward helping to get our fiscal house in order. Our spending problem didn’t emerge overnight, and it won’t be solved with a single bill, but I am committed to restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington, and I hope President Biden and congressional Democrats are as well.