Weekly Columns

Back to Normal

Jan 31 2014

In the movie “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray’s character finds himself reliving February 2 over and over. He quickly learns that he can get away with anything and throws caution to the wind only to find himself waking up in the same bed, to the same song. It’s not until he reflects on what’s important and reexamines his priorities that his life changes and he sees February 3. 

Congress experienced a similar sense of déjà vu. We have been reliving the same tired, approach to funding federal programs and spending taxpayer dollars by regularly passing continuing resolutions to keep the government operating. While Arkansans and the American people demand that we rein in federal spending, Congress continued this short-term funding mechanism that fails to deal with the long-term spending problem our country faces. Instead of tackling this challenge head-on, Congress had been passing bills that continue current funding levels and keep us on the path of out-of-control spending and waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. 

One important tool to help curb runaway spending is getting back to regular order. This means approving the 12 appropriations bills. Fortunately, Congress has made this a priority and is getting back on the right track. The recent budget deal and omnibus that Congress approved put us on a path toward doing things in an open, transparent and thoughtful way. 

This is an important step to reducing government spending. Determining how we distribute taxpayer dollars is a basic responsibility of Congress that for too long has been put in the hands of the White House instead of the House and Senate where it belongs. Arkansans have seen President Obama’s spending priorities and understand that they are at odds with their interests and values. 

The passage of the appropriations bills returns the Senate and the House to their proper function and gives Members of Congress a voice in deciding how those dollars are spent so the American people can see where their hard-earned money is going. 

Determining how taxpayer dollars are spent is a basic responsibility of Congress. The Appropriations Committee is tasked with allocating the federal funds to agencies and programs. Its role is defined by the U.S. Constitution, which requires "appropriations made by law" prior to the expenditure of any money from the Federal treasury. Restoring proper procedure allows committee members to do their job. 

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m committed to funding the programs that are an efficient use of taxpayer dollars and eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs and working to restore spending to lower levels. 

Continuing resolutions have been all too common while they should be an exception. We need to reestablish our priority of regular order and begin the new standard of appropriating and passing funding bills that are needed to keep the government open.