Members of Congress have left Washington for the August recess, and their trail out of town is covered in red ink.
The final actions of the Senate and House of Representatives was passage of a two-year budget and debt ceiling deal that creates a spending framework and avoids a government shutdown until beyond the 2020 election, but it also adds significantly to the annual deficits and the overall debt.
The deal, pushed by President Trump and agreed to by Democratic and Republican leaders in both chambers, raises the spending caps agreed to by lawmakers in the 2011 Budget Control Act, legislation that was designed to force spending cuts.
This spending plan piles on another $2 trillion to the already unsustainable debt, which has passed $22 trillion.
The measure passed the House 284 to 149. Democrats carried the load with 219 “yes” votes and only 16 “no” votes. 132 Republicans voted against the budget, while 65 voted for it. One independent voted “no.”
From the West Virginia Delegation, 1st District Congressman David McKinley and 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney voted against it, while 3rd District Congresswoman Carol Miller voted for it.
“At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down and say, ‘No’,” Mooney said on Talkline earlier this week.
On the Senate side, the budget bill passed 67 to 28. Like the House, the vote did not strictly follow party lines. 38 Democrats voted for the bill, while five voted against it. On the Republican side 29 Senators voted “yes” and 23 voted “no.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, cast a “no” vote, but admitted he was first leaning toward voting “yes.” However, he concluded that supporting the bill would be “one of the most irresponsible votes” he had ever taken.
West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito voted with the majority. Capito, who is chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, praised the deal.
“One of the most important jobs as members of Congress is delivering the resources to fund our government, provide certainty and support for our military and our veterans, and ensure economic stability for American families,” she said in a prepared release.
The budget bill received bi-partisan support because everybody got something: The president and Republicans got more money for the military and Democrats got an increase in domestic spending.
Washington’s appetite for spending is insatiable. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports by 2021 discretionary spending will have risen by 21 percent in just four years.
President Trump praised the deal as good for the military, veterans and the economy, while also avoiding a government shutdown in the near future, adding in a tweet. “Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!”
Time is not the issue, Mr. President, it’s political will. The destructive path of spending racing ahead of revenue continues and each year a larger chunk of our tax dollars is needed just to pay the interest on debt, which this year will be about $480 billion.
The sorry fact is that the leaders who put together this deal are praising it as though a compromise on amassing more debt is a bi-partisan success. It’s more like a Pyrrhic victory that will inflict a devastating toll on the country.