Senate Accomplishmentsby Senator Michael B. Enzi
Posted on 2015-12-15
ENZI. Mr. President, last year we made a promise to the American
people. If we were elected to the majority, we would get Washington
working again for American families. Republicans in the Senate have
been focused on putting our country on not just another course but a
better course. This will allow us to begin rebuilding the trust of
hard-working taxpayers who have seen their government become less
effective and less accountable.
Over the course of this year, as the Senate got back to work, the American [[Page S8658]] people got to see something that had been missing from this side of the Capitol over the past 8 years; that is, an open and transparent legislative process. This included Members from both sides of the aisle offering, debating, and ultimately voting on amendments to not just our balanced budget resolution and reconciliation proposal but to a whole host of legislative measures. Leader McConnell promised this, it is happening, and bills are passing because people on both sides of the aisle are having an opportunity to represent their constituents, to get votes on amendments.
The previous year we had 15 total votes on amendments. This year we have already had 192 votes on amendments, and the year is not over. So instead of allowing political points and partisan gridlock to take precedence over responsible governing, we are once again doing the people's business, and the Senate Budget Committee played an important role.
We had the first balanced budget in 14 years. Yes, Congress this year approved its first balanced 10-year budget since 2001. Americans who work every day to provide for their families and pay their taxes understand that it is time for the Federal Government to live within its means, just as they do. Hard-working taxpayers know they can't live on borrowed money, and neither can our Federal Government. This balanced budget approved by Congress shows these families that if they can do it, so can we. Our goal is to make our government more efficient, effective, and accountable. If government programs are not delivering results, they should be improved, and if they are not needed they should be eliminated.
A balanced budget would also help America tame its exploding debt, which today totals almost $19 trillion. Every dollar spent on interest on our debt is another dollar we won't be able to use for government services, for individuals in need or another dollar that won't be available for taxpayers for their own needs. Washington must live within its means, just as every hard-working family does every day, and we have to deliver a more effective and accountable government to the American people that supports them when it must and gets out of the way when it should.
To get our country and economy back on track, Americans must be allowed to spend more time working to grow their businesses or to advance in their jobs instead of worrying about taxes and inefficient and ineffective regulations. We want to empower our job creators to find new opportunities to expand our economy and, most importantly, assure that each and every American has the opportunity to find a good- paying job and a fulfilling career.
This is why the balanced budget also provided for repeal of the President's unprecedented expansion of government intrusion into health care decisions for hard-working families and small businesses. Our goal is to lift the burdens and higher costs ObamaCare has placed on all Americans.
ObamaCare is saddling American households with more than $1 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, ObamaCare will cost taxpayers more than $116 billion a year. For every American, ObamaCare has meant more government, more bureaucracy, and more rules and regulations, along with soaring health costs and less access to care.
The budget reconciliation legislation passed by the Senate will eliminate more than $1 trillion in tax increases placed on the American people, while saving more than $400 billion in spending. Most importantly, this bill begins to build a bridge from the President's broken promises to a better health care system for hard-working families across the country.
The Senate Budget Committee is an important resource for facts and information about the congressional budget process and the economy. That is why my committee recently began publishing its budget bulletin again, to provide regular expert articles by committee analysts on the issues before Congress relating to the budget, deficits, debt, and the economy. This year the bulletin has addressed the highway trust fund debate; defense spending, BCA caps, and OCO special funding; reconciliation and the Byrd Rule; budget enforcement and points of order; the appropriations process, which is the spending bills; the debt limit debate; and the 2016 continuing resolution.
Another important part of the committee's work is to increase oversight and transparency surrounding congressional spending. This is why I directed the Congressional Budget Office to release regular reports tracking the budgetary impact of enacted legislation against the fiscal year 2016 balanced budget resolution the Republican Congress approved. I have provided these reports after each recess work period in order to provide a status update on Congress's progress achieving the budget resolution plan.
Regularly providing information such as this will help foster fiscal transparency in the Federal spending process, and over time it will encourage a heightened awareness in the importance of complying with the budget. It will also help ensure that Congress remains focused on fiscal responsibility.
The recent omnibus spending and debt deal clearly illustrates that the Federal budget process is in serious need of reform, which is why the Senate Budget Committee this year has also focused on fixing our broken budget process.
Instilling the Federal budget process with regular action and predictability, active legislative oversight and spending transparency are critical to strengthening our democracy and reducing our Nation's unsustainable spending and debt.
We often talk about the threat America's growing debt poses to our economy and our future, but the growth in Federal regulations also poses a threat to long-term economic growth and job creation. The committee this year has been working to shine a light on these regulations and the burden they have on each and every American. It is critical for lawmakers and hard-working Americans to understand the true cost of regulations that are being issued by the administration. Taming our ``regulation nation'' will help ensure that the Federal Government works for the people, instead of people working for the government.
These aren't the only things that the Senate accomplished. I was proud to be a part of the Finance Committee's efforts to replace the doc fix so that doctors could be paid properly and Medicare recipients would be able to see doctors, also to enact trade promotion authority legislation, to increase trade that increases dollars to the United States, and also to finance the highway trust fund. I was proud to be a part of the effort of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and I commend my chairman for his work on those bills.
Today I also want to acknowledge Senator Cochran's work to lead the Appropriations Committee in reporting all 12 appropriations bills for the first time since 2012. Incidentally, they stayed within the budget on those, and most were bipartisan. It is the first time all 12 appropriations bills have been voted out of committee since 2012. I want to thank Senator Murkowski for her work on energy issues, including the Keystone Pipeline bill, and Senator Cornyn, for his efforts to protect victims of trafficking.
I was also proud to work this year on some issues important to my own State of Wyoming by pushing back on the administration's Clean Power Plan and waters of the United States rule, primarily designed to eliminate the use of coal and drive up the price of electricity in this country, which in essence will cost the average American a lot more for their electricity. Just as importantly, it will send jobs overseas where the energy costs less.
This year Congress also corrected a problem that the 2012 highway bill created for Wyoming, and I commend Senator Barrasso for his efforts on that. I also want to thank Senators McCain and Isakson for their work to support our troops and our veterans. I appreciate Senator McCain working with me to ensure small businesses have the help they need to compete for Federal contracts.
This isn't an exhaustive list. There are several more things. We passed over 80 bills this year. But these are some of the things we can be proud of. The Senate is under new management, [[Page S8659]] and these accomplishments and others still to come show hard-working taxpayers that Republicans in the Senate are working to deliver a more effective and accountable government, a government for the people and by the people that supports them when it must and gets out of the way when it should. We have made great progress this year, but there is still more to be done. By working together, we are proving that we can deliver real solutions and real progress that the American people want and deserve.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.