Each year, Congress has a responsibility to craft 12 separate appropriations bills – each one covering a different function of the federal government. These bills appropriate (i.e. provide) money for the federal government to operate.
Passage of these bills can seem like a dysfunctional process. For starters, Congress frequently runs right up to the deadline, and often relies on "continuing resolutions" which basically extend funding at existing levels (with some exceptions) for a certain period until the appropriations bills can be passed.
Another common occurrence is when leaders bundle together multiple appropriations bills into one massive "omnibus" bill – often many thousands of pages long. Amidst the chaos, there's usually little regard for our deficit spending and national debt, which most of you know are among my biggest concerns in Congress. In my view, this is no way to run the federal government.
Current funding for the federal government is set to expire at the end of September. This means in the coming weeks, you're likely to hear more news about these appropriations bills as the House and Senate work through this important process.
We are over $32 trillion in debt, according to the U.S. Treasury. As I have said repeatedly, I believe our federal government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. As your representative in Congress, my biggest litmus test for spending bills is that each must include responsible cuts to place and keep us on a trajectory to balance the budget within a reasonable period of time. Any appropriations bill that fails this test will not have my support, because I believe our spending is out of control and jeopardizes the future of our country.
There are a significant number of hurdles to overcome in pursuit of this year's appropriations bills. There are also major differences between conservatives and liberals in Washington when it comes to federal spending, our national debt, and the ultimate role of government in our lives. These appropriations bills will be among the most important endeavors Congress will undertake this year, so I'll be sure to keep you all updated as we move forward.