Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
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Representatives Murphy and Cuellar Push for Fiscally Responsible Reconciliation

Sep 7, 2021 | Budgets & Projections

Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) recently sent a letter to House majority leadership outlining principles for the forthcoming reconciliation bill, including a push for fiscal responsibility.

The lawmakers, writing as two members of the Chief Deputy Whip team, explain that they represent a cross section of their colleagues in sharing their views. In the letter, the members discuss their support for various provisions expected to be in the final bill, such as filling the Medicaid coverage gap and assisting workers and small businesses that continue to struggle as a result of the pandemic.

They go on to summarize our current debt trajectory and how past tax cuts have made it worse:

“Also like you, we want the bill to be fiscally sound, unlike the last Republican-authored reconciliation bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Even proponents of that bill acknowledge that it exploded our nation’s deficits and debts and is a major reason why our nation’s current fiscal situation is so alarming. Federal debt held by the public is projected to be 103 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2021, and annual deficits are expected to average $1.2 trillion from 2022 to 2031. For the sake of our economy, our security, and our children’s future, we must not repeat the Republicans’ act of reconciliation irresponsibility.”

Finally, they ask that the House only vote on a bill that can pass the Senate, that members have at least 72 hours to evaluate the reconciliation bill before it is considered on the House floor, and that the bill be fiscally responsible, writing:

“…the provisions in the bill that increase deficits should be offset, with the possible exception of measures to combat climate change, in light of the fact that cost estimates prepared by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation do not adequately account for the future costs associated with inaction on the climate crisis. We were willing to vote for trillions of dollars in emergency spending in 2020 and early 2021, virtually none of which was paid for, in order to address the severe health and economic consequences of COVID-19. We support additional investments in our country, but will insist they be paid for.”

Read the full letter here.

We commend Representatives Murphy and Cuellar for urging fiscal responsibility during the reconciliation process (though given the massive borrowing already in place under current law and the availability of obvious offsets, we believe all of reconciliation should be offset). Fully paying for legislative priorities is the responsible course of action, and if policies are worth enacting, they are worth paying for.

Learn about how the reconciliation process works in our Reconciliation 101.

Read more options and analyses on our Reconciliation Resources page.