Today, President Obama unveiled his budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which reduces the deficit and puts debt on a sustainable path while laying out a vision for how we can give every American a fair shot at economic security; accelerate American innovation; and keep Americans safe. Yet, for the first time in modern history, the Republican Majority declared last week it is refusing to give the Office of Management and Budget Director an opportunity to present the President’s budget to the House and Senate Budget Committees.
“Breaking with a 41-year-old tradition, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees announced that they would not even give the president’s budget director, Shaun Donovan, the usual hearings in their panels this week… G. William Hoagland, who was the Republican staff director at the Senate Budget Committee for much of the 1980s and 1990s, and is senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said he could not recall a year since the modern budget process took effect in the 1970s when a president’s budget director was not invited to testify before the budget committees. ‘While the last budget of an outgoing president is usually aspirational, and sets a theme for what he or she hopes will be followed up by his or her successor, it nonetheless should be reviewed by the Congress,’ Mr. Hoagland said.” [New York Times, 2/8/16]
“[T]he House and Senate Budget Committees were heading down a different path… Their chairmen announced that they won't bother to hold the customary hearing on the president's annual budget proposal – a proposal that Congress has required presidents to submit since 1921 – before coming up with its own, nonbinding budget resolution for fiscal 2017. The message to the administration, in short: We don't want to work with you. But we're still going to cry foul if you don't work with us… Short version: Obama doesn't share our priorities… so we're not going to give the administration the chance to talk about his.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/8/16]
“‘I believe that permitting the administration the courtesy of explaining its intent and what it thinks of the policy should have been maintained,’ said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and an economic adviser to Republicans…. The rebuff of Mr. Donovan was at odds with the civility that Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin has sought, going back to his time as House Budget Committee chairman.” [New York Times, 2/8/16]
Since the President’s top budget representative won’t be able to present his priorities, here’s a look at how his budget makes critical investments in our domestic and national security priorities, such as:
Innovation & Job Creation
- Building a 21st Century transportation system;
- Doubling investments in clean energy research and development.
- Expanding access to quality child care for working families;
- Creating a mobility counseling pilot to help families move to, and stay in, safer neighborhoods with strong schools and better access to quality jobs;
- Providing families with the emergency help they need to avert or reverse a downward spiral, and if needed, connect to long-term assistance;
- Establishing a permanent program to provide low-income families with assistance so that children who rely on free or reduced-price meals don’t go hungry in the summer.
Education & Workforce Development
- Strengthening Pell Grants so more Americans can afford higher education;
- Supporting the Computer Science for All initiative to give all students the chance to learn computer science;
- Increasing funding for apprenticeships.
- Expanding access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use;
- Supporting a Cancer Moonshot to eliminate cancer as we know it;
- Improving the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage, also known as the Cadillac tax.
- Ensuring our nation has the resources to destroy ISIL and combat violent extremism;
- Strengthening cyber security through the Cybersecurity National Action Plan;
- Providing funding for a new headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation;
- Bolstering peace and security in Europe through the European Reassurance Initiative.
While Democrats remain focused on investing in our nation’s future, House Republicans are deeply divided over their budget and whether it should adhere to the spending levels they agreed to last year.
“The same group of conservatives that drove former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to resign amid a government spending fight last year are now threatening to rebel against the upcoming House Republican budget over $30 billion in spending that Boehner helped secure. They want current Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) to back out of the last year’s bipartisan agreement and reset spending targets at a lower level despite Ryan’s recent pleas for a more united party.” [Washington Post, 2/5/16]
“The budget bickering continued all week despite Ryan’s pleas for greater unity within the party.” [Washington Post, 2/5/16]
“Ryan has made it his top priority during his first full year as Speaker to push a budget and all 12 appropriation bills through the House — a low bar, but something that hasn’t happened in decades. But if his GOP conference can’t even rally behind a budget, it will derail that process and spur another government-funding crisis on Sept. 30, just weeks before the presidential election.” [The Hill, 2/7/16]
Democrats will continue to urge Speaker Ryan to honor the budget agreement reached last year and work with us to responsibly fund the government.
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