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Chairman Smith Remarks at Rules Committee: Fiscal Responsibility Act

May 30, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Chairman Cole, Ranking Member McGovern, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words about the legislation before us that addresses the debt ceiling and begins to address the spending binge that got us here.

“Let’s start by talking about why we are here a mere few days prior to potential default. It’s because the Biden Administration refused to come to the table until 100 days after Speaker McCarthy said “let’s talk” – even though polls show the majority of Americans want a debt ceiling agreement where Congress cuts spending. The refusal to negotiate was a deliberate decision on the part of the White House. It wasted a lot of time and stoked a lot of fear.

“I should note for my colleagues that Democrats could have raised the debt limit last year when they controlled the House. The fact is, we are here because after the last debt limit increase, Democrats blew through the $2.5 trillion debt ceiling increase in 399 days – that’s more than $6 billion in new debt issued per day. And when Democrats controlled all of Washington, they increased spending by $10 trillion.

“And what did the American people get?

“The worst inflation crisis in a generation. Rising interest rates making that mortgage, car loan, or small business loan harder to afford. And a trail of wasteful spending of federal tax dollars on everything from golf courses to ski mountains, beach bathrooms to stimulus checks for convicted prisoners.

“The only reason we have a solution before us, The Fiscal Responsibility Act, is because Republicans acted responsibly from day one. We called for negotiations. We put forward a plan and passed it in the House. We listened to the American people who are tired of the reckless spending and want Congress to behave responsibly.

“This bill is not everything everyone wanted. But it delivers for the American people on several fronts.

“For example, it claws back pandemic-era funding that is so clearly no longer needed. This bill will be the largest rescission of previously authorized taxpayer dollars ever signed into law. The bill text is comprised of 20 pages cancelling plans to spend tax dollars on wasteful projects.

“It puts the brakes on the past two years of Washington’s reckless runaway spending. For 10 years we had discretionary spending caps in Washington, but during 2 years of complete Democrat control, all of that went away. What we saw was an explosion of discretionary spending. For 10 years, we had averaged annual discretionary growth of roughly 2.5 percent. Over the last 2 years that pot of discretionary spending has grown 16 percent.

“This bill also helps more Americans escape poverty. The common sense work requirements will flip the switch on the status quo that right now pays Americans more to stay home than find a job.

“This bill downsizes the outrageous pay raise the IRS was given under one-party Democrat rule – an IRS that with every passing day shows itself less and less deserving of the American people’s trust, never mind more of their tax dollars.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act brings back Administrative PAYGO. Had something like that been in place for the last two years, the Biden Administration would not have been able to issue over $1 trillion worth of executive actions without first finding savings to offset those actions.

“This bill also reinforces an important precedent, even from when President Biden was a Senator and when he was Vice President: The debt ceiling ought to be the mechanism that forces parties to the table to negotiate ways to address Washington’s spending habit.

“It is a shame that it took this long for the President to do the responsible thing. The American people didn’t have to wait those 100 days he chose to sit on the sidelines. But we have an agreement now and an opportunity to deliver some wins for the American people.”