Budget committee OKs FY 2006 proposal
On Wednesday evening, March 9, my colleagues on the House Budget Committee and I completed work on the budget outline for FY 2006. The entire mark-up process took nearly 13 hours, and while this is certainly a tremendous amount of work by anyone's standards, it was much shorter than the anticipated adjournment time of 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
At the outset, let me say the completion of this process represents a significant amount of work by members on both sides of the aisle and both Majority and Minority committee staff. Each of them should be commended for their attention to detail, for all of their hard work in preparing charts, exhibits, and briefing books, and for their effort to provide what we hope will be a responsible budget proposal for the operation of the federal government.
Following the delivery of the administration's budget proposal to Capitol Hill earlier this year, the Budget Committee conducted a series of hearings with high-ranking administration officials regarding the needs of individual government agencies. We carefully examined the financial priorities established by President Bush and worked to develop a responsible budget proposal, which establishes some important goals to increase the level of fiscal responsibility in Washington.
The budget resolution passed by the committee does not actually become law, but it (as well as a companion measure currently under consideration in the Senate) must be adopted in some form by the House of Representatives. It establishes an overall ceiling on the funding that will be available for the organizations and related programs under the jurisdiction of the ten appropriations subcommittees.
As we entered the mark-up process on the budget resolution, we resolved to meet three specific goals: to fund our national priorities, to restrain spending and reduce the deficit, and to avoid raising taxes. I feel confident the resolution in its present form does just those three things.
One important aspect of the resolution is the provision to cut the deficit in half by 2009. According to current projections, the deficit for FY 2006 will be $376 billion, but this amount will be reduced by $229 billion in four years.
Additionally, the budget resolution takes into account the proposed $81 billion supplemental appropriations bill to continue funding the war on terror, and it reflects a projected $50 billion in additional funding in FY 2006.
Finally, this measure includes the president's request for an increase in defense spending of 4.8 percent (a total of $419.5 billion), and a reduction in discretionary non-security spending of 0.8 percent (a total of $391.1 billion).
The funding process for FY 2006 is of course in its early stages, and many aspects of the budget may be altered in the coming weeks by the full House and by the individual appropriations subcommittees as the needs of the federal government are debated and considered. However, I am proud of the responsible action we, on the Budget Committee, have taken in setting the parameters for debate in the coming weeks.
Committee Chairman Jim Nussle should be highly commended for his even-handed but determined approach to the budget resolution and for his leadership on this important issue.
As this process continues with what I hope will be a quick adoption of the resolution by the full House and the beginning of work by the members of the appropriations subcommittees, I will certainly keep you informed and let you know how the First District and our entire state will be impacted.
Above all, I want to reiterate that achieving the goal of deficit reduction will not be easy, and that some tough choices will have to be made. However, I will continue to do my part to ensure that the needs of the American people, and of each of you, are balanced with the legitimate obligations of the federal government.
My staff and I work for the people of south Alabama. Let us know when we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents Escambia County in the U.S. House of Representatives.