The House Budget Committee will be central to the GOP’s effort to curtail federal spending and pay down the national debt if Republicans take control of the House next year, according to two lawmakers vying to lead the panel.
Rep. Lloyd Smucker told Fox News Digital that he is running for the top GOP spot on the committee to help Republicans turn the page on the big spending policies of prior years. Smucker, R-Pa., said the party is poised to get serious about spending and the national debt, which is now at $31 trillion.
“There’s a long history of excessive spending during both Democrat and GOP administrations,” he said. “But I’m hearing more people about our national debt, members of leadership are talking about the debt as a huge threat to our nation, so I think there’s a readiness to act.”
The Pennsylvania Republican, who comes from an Old Order Amish family, says eliminating the budget deficit and paying down the national debt will be hard work given Washington’s spending habits.
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“We can be a catalyst, we won’t necessarily solve all the problems,” said Smucker. “But we can start us on the right path and make progress over time. I think the [House Republican] conference is ready to take that responsibility seriously.”
The view is shared by Rep. Buddy Carter, the other leading contender for the position. Carter told Fox News Digital that the Budget Committee is set to play a larger role when it comes to congressional spending under a GOP majority.
“The Budget Committee is going to be a lot more important than it has been under Democrats because our conference actually wants to address spending and the debt,” said Carter, R-Ga.
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Smucker and Carter have the potential to lead the committee because the current top GOP member there, Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, is leaving the committee and hopes to lead the House Ways and Means Committee.
GOP lawmakers allege that the Budget Committee has withered under Democratic control of the House. They say Democrats, dealing with slim majorities in both chambers of Congress, have pushed through big spending bills along party lines with limited debate.
“What we’ve had is a taxpayer mugging. Government spending has exploded in recent years, driving up the national debt to $31 trillion,” said Carter. “The interest on that debt is the fourth-largest line item in our budget. That’s money that could be going to serve our veterans and our schools.”
Carter says that although a balanced budget will not be possible within two years, he’s committed to doing everything possible to eliminate the budget deficit and start lowering the national debt as the top Republican on the Budget Committee. The Georgia Republican says the first step will be expanding oversight to all portions of the federal government.
“One of the first oversight hearings that I am going to propose to the committee will be to have the IRS come in and explain to us what they can do to improve their efficiency and performance without hiring 87,000 new agents,” said Carter. “Oversight is key to cutting waste, cutting debt and saving taxpayer money.”
The House Budget Committee is tasked with drafting a budget resolution that outlines the government’s overall spending levels for a period of time. That resolution allocates a portion of the overall spending for individual committees to decide what government programs should be funded.
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It’s a process that has been virtually ignored by Congress for years. Although the Budget Committee draws up a resolution, its final form and the final spending levels are usually decided through negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House.
If those negotiations wind up with a budget that exceeds the spending caps approved by the Budget Committee, those caps are waved by Democrats in the House Rules Committee.
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Smucker argued that the current process was designed to prevent lawmakers from having to publicly debate boosting individual lines items within the budget.
“This is only my idea, but why don’t we make it harder to wave those budget caps?” said Smucker. “In the Rules Committee, you need just a simple majority, but what if you needed two-thirds? Or what if you took the process out of the Rules Committee altogether and had a floor debate?”