Changing Our Broken System

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 22, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RIBBLE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about embarrassment.

Next week, the Congress of the United States will once again have to refer on and go back to funding our Federal Government with an ad hoc continuing resolution. Federal law requires the Congress of the United States to pass a budget each year. It requires the Congress of the United States to pass 12 appropriations bills each year by September 30, which is coming up next week.

I came to Congress in 2011, Mr. Speaker. Since then, we have passed zero regular order appropriations out of the 72 required by law--zero. And yet, we have been able to find some way to pass 20 short-term continuing resolution appropriations bills that have no reforms to spending, they have no reforms to policy, and we have passed five 2,000-page omnibus spending bills. Somehow we were able to do those two things, but we weren't able to pass 12 simple appropriations bills to properly manage the taxpayers' money.

I have heard it said that Americans are disappointed with Congress. In fact, I am a little surprised that we have an 18 percent approval rating right now. Maybe we have a lot of family members or some folks back home who aren't paying attention to what is going on here.

We wonder why out of the $3.8 trillion of taxpayer dollars that we have received here in the Congress of the United States each year are not being managed correctly by the only body that can actually manage it. Why in the world aren't they fixing this problem and passing their spending bills in regular order in front of the American people where they can see it and do it instead of these ad hoc spending bills?

Mr. Speaker, each year that I have been in Congress, I have authored a bill that would change our broken system and begin to fix this system that doesn't work. I would propose to you that 0 out of 72 is not a very good batting record. It is called the Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act. In fact, today, it has 237 cosponsors of the majority in this House. When I introduced the bill last year, I introduced it with 108 original cosponsors that signed on with me when we introduced it.

That represents, by the way, Mr. Speaker, 50 percent of the whole House of Representatives. It represents 63 percent of the elected Republican leadership in this House. It represents 29 percent of the minority party. Fifty Democrats have joined with Republicans and said: we need to fix this broken system.

Seventy-two percent of the majority party support this reform. Sixty- eight percent of committee chairmen support this reform. Sixty-seven percent of subcommittee chairmen support this reform. Sixty-five percent of the Republican Steering Committee, the leadership of this House of Representatives, support this reform.

It was referred to the Budget Committee where 56 percent support this reform. It was also referred to the Rules Committee where 54 percent support this reform. And yet, there has been no vote on this in the House. 237 cosponsors represent 168 million American people whose voices have been squashed and been silenced by our lack of inaction.

Mr. Speaker, I started by saying I want to talk about embarrassment. I am embarrassed for the Congress of the United States. I am proud of the effort that has been done here, and I am proud of the people and Members of Congress who have stood up to finally fix this broken system and said: enough is enough.

I am proud of Senator Enzi and Senator Inhofe over in the U.S. Senate trying to advance the same types of reforms there. But I am embarrassed for the Congress of the United States. I am embarrassed for our leadership. I am embarrassed because we haven't been able to do what is right, even though the majority of us agree that this is better than what we have, that this is a step forward.

But I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, what I am more than embarrassed about. I am disappointed. Because the only people in the country that can fix this is the Congress of the United States.

Since 1974, when the Budget Act was put in place, the Congress of the United States has failed to pass its budget and its appropriations bills required by law every single year for 42 years. They have not been able to do it on time even once. Some people will argue that this isn't the best fix and may not be the perfect fix, but I will tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, it is better than 0 out of 72 for sure.

I call on the Speaker of the House to bring this bill to the floor and let 168 million Americans finally be heard.