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Deadlines May Determine the
Course of the Nation

January 26, 2015

This week we’re going to take a side road from our series on “What Freedom Demands” to discuss a related topic. There’re a number of deadlines facing Washington in the months ahead.   How they’re resolved will determine the direction of our nation.

February 2nd:  The President’s Budget:  In 2013 this budget was delivered two months late.  In 2014 it was only a month late.  Hopefully this year it will be on time; it’s due by the first Monday in February and it sets out the President’s priorities for the nation.  Recent reports indicate that the President will submit a budget that increases spending by 7%, something that’s dead on arrival.

February 28th:  Appropriation for DHS:  The last Congress passed a huge $1.1 trillion Continuing Resolution funding the government for a year, except for the Department of Homeland Security which was only funded only through February. The current Congress is poised to fund this agency through September 30th while including prohibitions against spending any money to implement/administer the unilateral immigration actions taken by the President.   He’s threatened to veto such a measure, setting up yet another confrontation between the legislative and executive branches.

March 15th: The Debt Ceiling:  A year ago the Congress made a big mistake when it eliminated the ceiling on the national debt allowing the federal government to borrow whatever it wanted. As mentioned last week: “when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty” [Ben Franklin]. As we approach March 15th there will be moves to increase the debt limit.  We urge restraint. Both parties in Congress have a thirst for spending which needs to be held in check.  We need to act now to reduce the overall debt. We need a plan that piece by piece pulls us back from the brink of the economic disaster that we face.  Reduce the deficit now before it is too late!

April 1st: Congressional Budget Resolution: By this deadline Congress is to agree upon its spending priorities for the year.  In past years Congress has not passed this resolution (primarily because the Senate failed to act) but hopefully with the Senate in GOP hands things will be different this year.  This document is supposed to spell out where the Appropriations Committees allocate money to fund our government. 

Some in Congress want to eliminate the “firewall” between domestic and defense spending.  This would provide flexibility and to the extent it moves dollars toward funding our national defense -- a constitutionally mandated priority – we would support doing this.  We should remember that if Congress fails to agree on the budget resolution “Sequestration” will kick in, mandating across the board cuts -- an action that may be the only way we get actual cuts in spending but which could prove disastrous for our national security.

September 30th: Funding Government Agencies:  By this deadline the Congress needs to pass all 13 appropriation bills.  This is critical.  We must stop procrastinating and hurriedly funding the government though Continuing Resolutions.  CR’s light up like “Christmas trees” that attract all kinds of gifts (pork projects that should never see the light of day). The Congress must return to “regular order” where all spending is thoroughly considered and vetted. 

It is time for Congress to get its job done, taking actions that are fiscally sound and based on sound policies.  If the President vetoes such actions and parts of government are shutdown, let the blame fall upon the Administration!  Fiscal restraint and sound policy are not an option, they’re an imperative!

Bill, Mark, and John