Chairman Enzi: Congress May Not Have the Tools for the Next Fiscal Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a nomination hearing for the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) today said that he is increasingly concerned that the nation will not have the fiscal tools to address the next fiscal crisis.

“While addressing the current pandemic was necessary, I remain concerned about the nation’s fiscal health, because while we had the financial tools to address this crisis this time, we should not assume that this will always be true,” said Chairman Enzi.  “Congress acted to provide needed relief for individuals, businesses, and state and local governments on a series of bills resulting in spending of unprecedented size. Unfortunately, the pandemic has deepened our nation’s debt and deficits, which were already on an unsustainable path. Interest rates are currently very low, and we have more flexibility in borrowing money to aggressively attack the coronavirus crisis.  Failure to address our unsustainable budget will mean future Congresses will not have the same flexibility to deal with threats.”

Enzi noted the most recent budget report from the Congressional Budget Office shows the overall budget deficit in the first seven months of fiscal year 2020 was $1.48 trillion, which was $949 billion more than the deficit recorded the same time last year. CBO currently projects the federal budget deficit will be $3.7 trillion this year.

“This unprecedented national crisis has highlighted the need for better budgeting. The federal response to the crisis was necessary and there may be more legislation coming,” Chairman Enzi said.  “But first we must ensure the federal government also develops a sustainable plan for budgeting.  A working budget process is needed, rather than the recent structure where the motto seems to be everyone gets what everyone wants and there are no constraints.” 

Enzi highlighted reforms contained in the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act, which was approved by the Budget Committee last November. He said the bill works to fix the government’s broken budget process, and would provide a more orderly and deliberative budget process focused on long-term fiscal planning. The Chairman also called on OMB to provide Congress and the public with a federal program inventory so that lawmakers and taxpayers know exactly where federal money is going. Enzi said the inventory will help the government eliminate duplication and ensure programs are working as intended.

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