This guest opinion was signed by the following 39 members of the House Republican freshman class: Rich Nugent, Raúl Labrador, Austin Scott, Bill Flores, Mike Kelly, Steven Palazzo, Bob Gibbs, Rob Woodall, Tim Scott, Mike Pompeo, Paul Gosar, Tim Griffin, Andy Harris, Jeff Landry, James Lankford, Chris Gibson, Robert Hurt, Nan Hayworth, Chuck Fleischmann, Bill Huizenga, Blake Farenthold, Martha Roby, Sean Duffy, Mo Brooks, Ann Marie Buerkle, Allen West, Bill Johnson, Scott Rigell, Joe Walsh, Randy Hultgren, Steve Pearce, Frank Guinta, Jeff Denham, Diane Black, Kristi Noem, Reid Ribble, Sandy Adams, Steve Womack and Steve Stivers.
By REP. RAUL LABRADOR, R-IDAHO,
and 38 OTHER FRESHMEN REPUBLICANS
Earlier this month, the creditworthiness of our country was officially called into question, for the first time since the United States' "full faith and credit" was established in 1790.
This could have been avoided.
Over the last few months, the House and the Senate have received the same dire warnings from Standard & Poor's, Moody's and the other ratings agencies.
The House led by crafting solutions to our debt problem. Months ago, the House passed a budget that reduces short-term deficits by more than $4.4 trillion and addresses the unsustainable, long-term structural deficits that threaten this nation.
Just a few weeks ago, the House passed a bipartisan bill, "Cut, Cap and Balance," that could have cut federal spending by $111 billion next year, capped future expenditures and required passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.
In doing so, the House twice met the requirements that Standard & Poor's laid out to avoid a downgrade.
The Senate, on the other hand, did nothing. So far this year, the Senate has failed to adopt a budget or pass "Cut, Cap and Balance."
In fact, it has been more than 850 days since the Senate passed a budget. Given the fiscal crisis we are facing as a nation, the Senate's failure to act is unacceptable—both to our creditors and to all Americans, who must ultimately shoulder the burden of paying our debts.
While Americans understand the Senate will have its own opinions on legislation that the House passes, the Senate cannot escape from its obligation to govern. The Senate has a responsibility to pass a proposal of its own that addresses these issues.
Every moment the Senate has spent deriding the House for taking bold and decisive action was time that should have been spent working toward solutions.
President Barack Obama, his debt commission, the pundits, our creditors and many in the Democratic Party all agree that reforms to Medicare and Social Security are necessary to prevent the insolvency of those programs—and this nation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), however, chooses instead to play games by telling the American people that the House wanted to "end Medicare as we know it."
Reid chose scare tactics—saying that the House was "trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors to pay for tax loopholes for the rich." He knows full well that the House-passed budget not only saves Medicare, but also closes the tax loopholes he and his fellow Senate Democrats keep talking about. With 21 Senate Democrats up for re-election, Reid chose to place a higher value on political theater than on protecting seniors, job creators and the "full faith and credit" of the United States of America.
The consequences of Senate inaction are real and have led to continuing resolutions, threats of government shutdowns and, now, the nation's first credit downgrade.
There is no more time for dithering. There is no more time for politics. It is time for the Senate to act.
The Senate must present its plan—if it has one, or figure out how to work with the House to solve America's challenges. As a first simple step, the Senate should do what 75 percent of the American people want it to do: It should join the House in passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution—so that U.S. taxpayers can never be put in this position again.
We, the Republican freshmen, were elected to fundamentally change the way things are being done in Washington. We are making the tough decisions necessary to ensure that we remain the greatest and most prosperous nation in the world.
We simply need a Senate that will get to work and join us in this effort.