As Congress continues to inch toward major deadlines on important issues, the U.S. House leadership introduced bipartisan legislation Monday night which contains the agreements between Congressional leaders and the president on a two-year budget.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was introduced late Monday night and would increase the federal spending caps for two years by a total of $80 billion. The funding, $50 billion in the first year and $30 billion in the second year, would be equally divided between defense and non-defense spending. More details about the agreement can be seen here.
Ahead of these agreements, members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation sat down with the Kentucky Chamber’s Bottom Line last week to talk budget and deadlines.
In his interview with the Kentucky Chamber, House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers said he would like to see an omnibus bill passed that would focus on defense spending.
“We’ve got to increase funding for our defense, it has to be done. At the same time, the Democrats are wanting to bargain with us and say ‘ok, we will do that, but you have got to increase non-defense funding the same way.’ So that is really the big question I think that we have in negotiating an omnibus bill,” Rogers said.
Rogers continued to say that an omnibus bill, totaling $1.1 trillion, has many moving parts but the defense spending was key for him in the negotiations.
As for whether or not Congress will make its deadlines on some of the huge issues facing the country currently, Rogers told the Chamber he believes the amount of issues on the table at one time is “almost unprecedented.” Hear his full remarks below:
However, in recent years, Congress has seen its fair share of down-to-the-minute decisions. That is something Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield said he is disappointed to see happening again this year.
“Unfortunately, since the Budget Reconciliation Act was adopted in the mid-70’s, there have only been like seven years where the House and Senate signed by the president has passed a budget, all twelve appropriations bills in both bodies and signed by the president. So we have got to get back to letting Congress do its work and let the committees do their work and offer amendments at committee level to come up with a package and pass it,” Whitfield said.
Also expressing some concerns over the functions of the government currently, Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie said he is worried about the nation’s spending overall and also echoed Rogers’ sentiments that more investments need to be made in the military as the foreign policy landscape has changed in recent years.
“But I think the big thing is that we have gotten a handle on the appropriated spending, but we need to get a handle on the entitlement programs because of the baby-boomers retiring and our children are going into the workforce now. So those are the big issues that you’re hearing about: debt limit, how we spend money on infrastructure in the Highway Trust Fund, how we go about all those things together are what’s going to be discussed in the coming weeks,” Guthrie said.
Check back on Bottom Line for more on the Highway Trust Fund deadline and what members of Congress are saying about it this week.