Spanberger Calls on House Committee Leaders to Prioritize Fiscal Responsibility, Abide by Pay-As-You-Go-Rules

Since Arriving in the U.S. House, the Congresswoman Has Pushed for a More Transparent & Accountable Federal Budget Process

HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today urged U.S. House leaders to recommit to the principle of fiscal responsibility and abide by Congressional Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) budget rules. 

PAYGO budget rules make sure that any legislation that might increase the federal deficit is offset. In a letter to House Committee Chairs, Spanberger and a group of her freshman colleagues called on Committee Chairs to make sure each committee’s legislation is funded through responsible pay-fors. Additionally, the freshman Members asked for legislation to wait to advance out of committees until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has properly reviewed and released a proposed cost estimate. 

“In Central Virginia, I’ve heard continued concerns about our national debt and deficits, especially as the interest on our debt becomes the fastest-growing part of the federal budget. To help address this massive fiscal challenge, the House must act responsibly, because our children and grandchildren are at risk of taking on the burden of additional, exorbitant debt,” said Spanberger. “Today, I’m proud to stand alongside many of my freshman colleagues as we call on committee leaders to follow PAYGO rules that were re-established at the beginning of the new Congress. I’ve long said that our national debt is a threat to our national security and the economic strength of our country, and I look forward to additional conversations about how to protect the next generation from the threat of out-of-control spending and a bloated debt.”

The PAYGO letter was led by U.S. Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS-03), and the letter was also signed by U.S. Representatives Ben McAdams (D-UT-04), Colin Allred (D-TX-32), Cindy Axne (D-IA-03), Ed Case (D-HI-01), Joe Cunningham (D-SC-01), Kendra Horn (D-OK-05), Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02). 

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Committee Chairs –  

Thank you for your leadership in the 116th Congress. Our nation faces many challenges, and your committees are the place for thoughtful policy discussions and legislative solutions to overcome these challenges. 

We are new to Washington and represent constituents who sent us to Congress to bring a fresh perspective to governing and to ensure that the voices of all Americans are considered during the legislative process. Many of our constituents have expressed genuine concern about our growing national debt and deficits, and we believe that fiscal responsibility should be a shared goal of the Democratic majority. 

At the beginning of the 116th Congress, Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leadership agreed to a number of rules changes that would help make the legislative process more transparent and consensus driven. One of those rules was the reinstitution of Congressional Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) budget rules. Unfortunately, for much of the first eight months of the 116th Congress, we feel that PAYGO principles have not been followed throughout the legislative process, particularly as legislation is being considered at the committee level.  

PAYGO represents a critical step toward putting our nation on track for a fiscally sustainable future. Despite PAYGO being in the House Rules, legislation has frequently moved through the committee process before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has time to properly review and score legislation. Since there is limited time for a CBO study, members do not have enough time to properly consider the potential costs and pay-fors of the legislation before casting votes. We understand that legislation referred to multiple committees of jurisdiction can present challenges for committee chairs to identify appropriate offsets or offsets in that respective committee’s jurisdiction in advance of floor consideration. In these instances, we encourage the respective committee chairs to work collaboratively and to communicate throughout the legislative process regarding intentions for offsets. Developing ways to fund our shared policy priorities is an important step in the process that should be done in an open and transparent manner. 

We urge you to work with us to ensure that each committee’s legislation is funded with responsible pay-fors that are considered early in the legislative process. We also ask that legislation is not advanced out of committees until it has received a CBO score. 

Thank you for your consideration of these important requests, and we look forward to working with you to advance our shared priorities this Congress. 

BACKGROUND

Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has called for Congress to address the national debt, increase transparency in the budget process, and build a pathway toward a balanced budget. In July 2019, she voted against a budget bill that would increase the U.S. national debt by nearly $2 trillion.

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