The House needs a budget

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

The House needs a budget

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden exchanged letters via Twitter last week concerning the parties’ impasse over how to handle the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, which the national debt is about to exceed. It does not appear the exchange led to any progress.

McCarthy’s letter asked for an in-person meeting with Biden to discuss possible reform items, including reducing nondefense spending to levels proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), reclaiming unspent COVID-19 funds, and increasing domestic energy production.


Biden’s letter rejected a meeting and called on Republicans to raise the debt limit without any reforms and pass a budget. McCarthy was not amused.

“Let’s be very honest about this,” McCarthy told reporters. “The budget doesn’t have anything to do with the debt ceiling. I can pass a budget tomorrow, and we’ll still need to pass a debt ceiling. These are apples and oranges.”

McCarthy is right. Even if House Republicans pass a budget, the two parties will be nowhere closer to raising the debt limit than they are right now. But that doesn’t excuse House Republicans from meeting their statutory obligations for producing a fiscal blueprint for the federal government.

According to the Congressional Budget Act, the president is required by law to submit a budget proposal every year in late February. Biden missed that deadline, but he did produce a budget on March 9. It is now Congress’s turn, first to hold hearings on the president’s budget and then to pass a budget of its own. These hearings haven’t even started.

It does not matter that House Democrats regularly shirked their duty to pass a budget or that Senate Democrats are not fulfilling their budgetary obligations either. If Republicans want to control both chambers of Congress, let alone the White House, they need to hold themselves to a higher standard and show everyone their budgetary priorities.


Showing that the House Republican caucus can unite around a vision for a sound fiscal future will only strengthen McCarthy’s bargaining position at the debt limit table. Not only is using Manchin’s spending levels a good place to start, but Manchin has also made it very clear that he is unhappy with how Biden is implementing the energy portions of the Inflation Reduction Act. This is a huge opportunity for bipartisan compromise.

House Republicans just met their first big legislative challenge of the year: passing H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act. That bill is filled with good ideas that could easily be included in both a budget and a debt limit reform compromise. Manchin is clearly signaling that he wants to see more domestic energy production included in any debt limit deal. Republicans should pass a budget with those additional revenues in it and dare Biden to reject their bipartisan compromise.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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