Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Over the last year, Congress has come together multiple times to pass massive, bipartisan bills totaling trillions of dollars in relief measures to back the medical response and help American families and businesses weather the pandemic. I have been encouraged by this bipartisan approach, and recent economic projections from the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that already-enacted pandemic-related provisions, built upon the strong fiscal policy foundation we already have in place, will provide a robust economic recovery, with growth of 3.7 percent over the course of 2021. It is disappointing that the new Senate Majority has decided to move forward with a budget resolution to pass quickly proposals that have failed to garner broad bipartisan support in the past, instead of focusing on policies that will boost vaccine distribution and help get people back to work and our kids safely back to school.
I am apprehensive about a massive new spending package following so close on the heels of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed so recently in December. A considerable amount of the funding provided in December and some of the funding passed earlier in the year has not yet been spent. Rushing ahead with piling enormous amounts of additional taxpayer dollars on programs not near depletion and not making sure the previously allocated resources are best helping to address the pandemic seriously risks imprudent spending.
I filed 10 amendments to S.Con.Res. 5, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Resolution, that would prevent unnecessary tax hikes on middle-class families and businesses, and preserve access to affordable, quality health care. This included an amendment to extend permanently the lower tax rates for individuals and small businesses enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This amendment was not agreed to on a party line vote.
The proposed budget directs the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over major direct spending programs and all revenue and debt limit legislation, to increase the deficit by a staggering $1.3 trillion, without even determining or deliberating what polices would have the biggest impact in growing our economy. Although this budget instructs the Senate Finance Committee to spend this funding, the reality is that the Committee will likely never debate nor vote on amendments. Rather, we will be asked to simply rubber stamp partisan legislation passed in the House of Representatives.
I voted against the FY 2021 Budget Resolution that the Senate passed by a vote of 51 to 50 on February 5, 2021, because it does not pave the way for fiscally responsible, bipartisan budgeting enabling targeted COVID relief and economic growth. As we have done in the past, Congress should be working together on targeted COVID relief for families affected by the pandemic, and pro-growth policies that will allow employers to reopen and rehire.
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