The Need to Fix Appropriations

August 30, 2019
Weekly Columns

The federal appropriations process has been broken for decades, and this year was no different. Spending bills should be bipartisan, yet House Democrats sent partisan appropriations bills to the Senate, where they have no hope of passage.

Congress and the administration already agreed on a topline spending amount. I voted against this budget, because it would sink our country further in debt. Now the question is how to appropriate those funds. With the clock ticking, Congress will likely blow past the September 30 deadline and punt the decision to December. Even if Congress manages to quickly strike a deal, it will likely be done by the so-called “Four Corners” – the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader.

Spending bills for the year should be addressed by all of Congress, in a timely fashion, with no hidden policy riders or earmarks. Members should have the chance to debate and amend these bills in the open, allowing the American people to know exactly what the legislation contains. We can’t do that when massive omnibus bills are drafted behind closed doors and, for the most part, represent only the wishes of those in the negotiating room. Worst of all, if Congress continues waiting until year’s end to agree on appropriations, government shutdowns could become the norm and harm thousands of American families.

Looking on while a handful of members of Congress draft bills with no restraints on spending is not what the Fourth District elected me to do. I will continue fighting for an open, transparent budget process.

I’ll also be joining Hot Springs radio host Neal Gladner for a radio town hall on September 10, to discuss the federal budget and appropriations process, and I invite you to listen live at 105.5 FM, call in to 501-525-3313 with questions, or watch at www.facebook.com/RepWesterman.