Conservatives are horrified by the staggering $21 trillion in debt as well as the trillion dollar deficits we are running each year as a result of the latest omnibus bill and spending trajectory. Last month, my office’s phones were ringing off the hook with constituents dismayed that Washington is once again dramatically growing the size of government and their kids’ debt bill.
Adhering to the principles that I ran on, I voted no on the bill. As we learn more about what’s in the omnibus, the conservative outcry has been vindicated. The bill is stuffed with pork projects, wasteful expenditures and inappropriate spending levels.
By threatening to veto the omnibus spending package, the president showed us he understands that the American people have deep reservations about government spending levels — and an interest in securing the border and defunding Planned Parenthood. But, as he explained, the president felt forced to sign it because it fulfilled a central campaign promise to rebuild the military.
Fortunately, there is a way to keep the president and Republicans happy about the military budget and still cut some of the most glaring line items that made it into the final bill. President Trump now has the opportunity to renegotiate a better deal with Congress by pushing for Republicans to use one of President Reagan’s favorite tools, rescission.
Under the 1974 Impoundment Act, the president can propose the rescission or deferral of funds in any spending bill, and Congress will have 45 days of continuous session to either approve of those cuts or not. Even better, rescission only requires 51 votes in the Senate. Even if we have a few Republican defectors in the upper chamber, perhaps a handful of Democrats in red states can find fiscal sanity? After all, didn’t the Democrats (and their friends in the media) make a lot of noise about the $150 billion increase in deficit spending due to tax cuts? That was when the economic growth generated by our agenda would pay the tab. Now, when the deficit increase is $400 billion generated by increasing the spending swamp, we hear crickets.
Let’s start with cutting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Gateway Project, a pork project that would build a new tunnel to connect New Jersey and New York. The estimated cost of the project has doubled in the last decade and a single shovel hasn’t even pierced the ground. Why should taxpayers from my state have to pay for this? Can’t the residents of the financial capital of the world pay for it themselves? Mr. Trump should continue his fight to get this project defunded by ordering its rescission.
Second, can’t everyone agree that we should not be sending China $15 million in “development aid” — especially while we enter into trade negotiations with them? China just announced $50 billion in tariffs on U.S. products.
Here’s a third item to cut — funding for border walls in Tunisia. The omnibus prohibits a U.S.-Mexico border wall, but it allocates funding for walls halfway across the globe.
These three examples are only a CliffsNotes introduction to the pork-filled omnibus spending package tome of 2,200 pages. Now that the White House and Congress has had time to read the bill, I am sure we can find more wasteful projects to cut. And this time, the top of the list should be defunding sanctuary cities in chaotic and lawless California.
After all, Republicans control Congress and the White House — there is no excuse for not doing everything we can to cut spending. We have the backing of the American people who have showed Washington time and again they’re tired of the growing size of government and standing up for the status quo.
My constituents did not elect me to conduct “business as usual” and bankrupt America. Republicans made a lot of promises last year — the best way to ensure we stay in power is to deliver on those promises, and that means not spending like Democrats. They “pay to play” for a living. We do not.
What we need now is more noise from American patriots that will inspire courageous leadership from elected officials to get Washington under control. Until Democrats in the Senate stand with us for fiscal sanity, we have the perfect opportunity to show courage through rescission. Mr. Trump and the Republican Congress can fix the giant mistake of the omnibus bill.
• Dave Brat is a Republican U.S. representative from Virginia.