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Senator Sinema Introduces Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution

Jan 31, 2020 | Budget Process

This week, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), along with Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Angus King (I-ME), introduced a bipartisan bill that would make it harder for Congress to ignore our mounting national debt and other negative consequences of policymakers’ fiscal irresponsibility.

S. Con. Res. 35, or the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution, would invite the Comptroller General of the United States – the head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – to give a presentation on our nation’s current and projected fiscal situation to a joint hearing of the House and Senate Budget Committees. Unlike most committee hearings, any member of the House or Senate would be welcome to participate, regardless of whether or not they serve on their respective chamber’s budget committee.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said:

"Our national debt is now the highest it has ever been except around World War II. We need to pay attention to our escalating debt that will put an undue strain on the next generation, hinder income increases, and diminish economic growth. Senator Sinema, along with Senators Ernst, Rosen, and King, have rightly put forward a Fiscal State of the Nation resolution that would bolster focus on our worsening budget outlook and inform members of Congress about the consequences of our swiftly expanding national debt.”

The bill was introduced with bipartisan support, counting one Democrat, one Republican, and one Independent among its original co-sponsors. In October 2019, Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY) introduced the same legislation in the House as H. Con. Res. 68, which currently has 72 Democrats and 62 Republicans as co-sponsors.

Both S. Con. Res. 35 and H. Con. Res. 68 are similar to an amendment offered by Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) to budget reform legislation during a 2018 markup in the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. The amendment was adopted unanimously, but the overall legislation failed to advance.

We appreciate efforts by Senator Sinema, Representatives Rice and Barr, and all other members of the House and Senate to seek bipartisan solutions to our unsustainable long-term debt by inserting transparency into the federal budget process. The Committee for Responsible Federal Budget has recommended several budget process reforms through our Better Budget Process Initiative that highlight the importance of putting debt on a more sustainable, downward path as a share of the economy. While process reforms alone are no substitute for the kinds of tradeoffs that will need to be made to shore up entitlement programs, cut lower-priority spending, and raise needed revenue, they are certainly a step in the right direction.

To read more about the budget process and avenues for reform, please see our Better Budget Process Initiative.