Weekly Columns

Arkansas families understand what it means to live on a budget. We know we have to make difficult choices every day in order to live within our means. Why shouldn’t Washington do the same?

We need to change the way the government spends hard earned taxpayer dollars. I was confident that we were seeing a light at the end of the tunnel earlier this year when Senate leaders said they were taking steps to try to enact all the appropriations bills which allocate money to each department. I showed my support for this commitment on the Senate floor because moving forward on the appropriations bills returns the Senate to its proper function and provides a blueprint for spending.

Unfortunately, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid recently put a stop to appropriations work and admitted that the Senate will not vote on any of those bills being worked
on in committee.

This is disappointing and has become an all too familiar practice. Congress has been
unsuccessful at completing all regular appropriations bills by the October 1 deadline for 15 years. This repeated failure makes it harder to control spending, creates uncertainty for government agencies and those Arkansans who rely on them, and has interruptions in government services. 

There are long term effects to this trend that threatens the future of our children
and grandchildren. A recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report warned inaction on our increasing debt levels would be “detrimental to future generations.” Washington needs to start being responsible instead of kicking the can further down the road.  

Unfortunately, it looks as if the Senate Majority will take the easy way out again and pass a resolution that continues to fund the government at its current level. Considering
we are running a federal debt if $15.8 trillion, this is a reckless path. We have to focus on cutting spending. 

Too often the possibility of a lapse in government funding becomes a point for political posturing. Arkansans and all Americans who count on the services provided by government agencies are stuck in the middle. I am hopeful we have found a way to avoid this in the future. 

The End Government Shutdown Act, legislation recently introduced by Sen. Rob Portman from Ohio, will automatically continue funding for discretionary programs whose budget has not been approved by October 1 for 90 days. This would allow for government operations to continue running without any interruption in service. At the end of that
period the appropriations bills that are still unfinished would have an automatic one percent reduction.

This is a win-win approach to fixing the problems with our budgeting process. This
proposal, of which I am a cosponsor, is a commonsense way to reduce last minute
deals that give my colleagues and me little to no time to read the bill and lets us continue to work toward reducing spending while coming to an agreement without disruptions in government services. 

We understand the need for this blueprint to run our families and the government must
do the same. We need a contingency plan in place to keep services running smoothly. This is a necessary step to providing a secure financial foundation for future generations of Americans.