Tackling the National Debt

Floor Speech

Date: April 26, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to be leading this Special Order to discuss the ongoing efforts to tackle our national debt and the looming debt ceiling crisis.

Since my first day in office some 7-plus years ago, I have said that one of the single greatest threats to our national security is the Federal Government's reckless, uncontrolled spending. This is now more obvious than ever.

To be clear, it is essential that the United States honors its debts and pays back every single dollar that we have borrowed.

However, this cannot come without reforms to fix the unsustainable and dangerous spending habits that threaten our long-term solvency.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act, which I am happy to say the House approved only moments ago, is a good faith, middle-of-the-road approach to raising the debt ceiling while reining in--and I repeat--beginning to really rein in unnecessary, wasteful Federal spending.

Included in the bill are popular provisions, which would reclaim billions in unspent COVID funds, now that the pandemic is over.

It will also defund President Biden's army of 87,000 new IRS agents. It will strengthen the workforce, lower energy costs, and end the era, again, of reckless spending in Washington, D.C., all while protecting veterans, Social Security, Medicare, and national defense.

I am grateful to be joined by several of my colleagues that are here tonight to further discuss this issue, and I urge the administration to come to the table, sooner rather than later, to address the debt ceiling and begin the necessary reining in of spending.


Mr. BERGMAN. Mr. Speaker, when we talk about debt ceiling limits, as my colleague stated, we have already spent the money. Now it is time to pay our bills. When you think about how that all starts, it starts with responsible spending and allocation of funds on the front end, knowing that there are limits.

In my first term in the 115th Congress as a member of the Budget Committee, I still remember very starkly a data point that was given to us as new members of the committee. The subject was improper payments by the Federal Government. Seven years ago, that number was $150 billion a year in improper payments by the Federal Government.

When we talk about limiting debt and we talk about clawing back funds that have already been appropriated and are sitting in accounts, we always have to consider the fact that are we as the Federal Government really managing the expenditure of the dollars?

Because of the fact that there is no incentive within Federal bureaucracies to attack improper spending, we haven't addressed the entire problem.

When you think about an example of what that $150 billion annually would mean in improper payments, an example would be if a person who, God rest their soul, has been deceased, but yet, their Social Security check still comes, or other checks come. You know there is an end game for that.

Another example would be that a person is receiving a check for $1,000 that really should be for $100. That is just an error. So we need to look inside ourselves, within the bureaucracies, within the Federal Government to cut down the improper payments because we have to look at the debt control, if you will, and the debt reduction, or, as you have heard other people say, bending the curve down to a reasonable rate of repaying our debts without increasing the debt and increasing unnecessary wasteful expenditures. We have to figure out a way to incentivize the good, hardworking folks within our government bureaucracies to take a closer look at all those things and be part of solutions that are going to benefit our country as a whole and all of its citizens.

I will conclude by just saying we got a great start here about 30 minutes ago when we passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act. This is just the next step towards hopefully fruitful, honest, thoughtful negotiations with the White House to help us begin to be able to bend that curve of wasteful spending.