KEY VOTE: “NO” on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019

KEY VOTE: Senate · Jul 24, 2019

Heritage Action opposes the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

This week, the House is expected to vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, followed by the Senate next week.

The two-year agreement would raise the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) caps by $322 billion and suspend the debt ceiling until July 31, 2021. If enacted into law, this Mnuchin-Pelosi budget deal would be the most fiscally egregious deal in recent years and would create annual deficits on par with President Obama’s.

In 2018, President Trump nearly vetoed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, famously promising the American people that he “will never sign another bill like this again.” The deal under consideration this week will increase the ten-year spending baseline by $1.7 trillion to $2 trillion, increase debt to 97 percent of GDP by 2029, and pave the way for another trillion dollar plus omnibus spending deal this fall.

According to Paul Winfree, director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation:

This deal comes less than four years after President Trump campaigned to balance the budget by cutting spending and after his administration produced three budgets to move toward fiscal sustainability. Few forces would threaten the president’s pro-growth agenda more than $22 trillion in debt fueled by unchecked government spending. If President Trump takes this deal—the worst in a decade—his fiscal legacy will be no different than the Obama and Bush administrations that he has criticized.

Not only does this deal dramatically increase discretionary spending and suspend the debt ceiling for two years, it does so without legitimate offsets. The $77.3 billion worth of offsets that are included are 1) well short of the list of $574 billion in potential cuts the White House proposed, not including extending the BCA discretionary caps and 2) almost entirely composed of budget gimmicks with savings not realized until the ninth and tenth year of the budget window. The longstanding Heritage position has called on Congress to enact spending reforms to pay for any raise in the debt ceiling or budget caps. This agreement fails to do either one.

On a slightly positive note, the deal allows for a much-needed increased investment in our military’s readiness and preparedness capabilities, though it is not nearly enough. Defense funding would rise to $738 billion in 2020, a 3.1 percent increase over this year’s enacted level, and an unacceptable $740 billion in 2021, a 0.3 percent increase. This is below both The Heritage Foundation’s call for $742 billion and the President’s request of $750 billion for 2020.

In addition to the increase in defense investment, the agreement reportedly includes the protection of pro-life policies that have long been riders on annual appropriations bills. If this portion of the agreement is maintained, this will be a silver lining to an otherwise dismal budget deal and will continue President Trump’s successful record of defending unborn children.

It’s unfortunate that Democrats continue to hold defense spending increases hostage for non-defense spending increases, and fiscally responsible members of Congress should decide that enough is enough. While defense funding would get a small boost under this deal, non-defense funding would rise by 4.5 percent, or up to $632 billion for fiscal year 2020. Fiscal hawks and conservatives have long sought to increase defense spending while lowering non-defense spending. In the past, defense hawks have been willing to accept parity for non-defense and defense spending. This agreement violates both positions within the Republican party and appears to be a huge win for Speaker Pelosi.

According to Justin Bogie, Senior Policy Analyst in Fiscal Affairs at The Heritage Foundation:

“Instead of increasing domestic spending, lawmakers should find ways to appropriately fund defense spending within the existing cap levels. The Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Balance offers a way to spend $742 billion on defense in fiscal year 2020, while staying $40 billion below the total Budget Control Act cap.”

Heritage Action polling shows that 81 percent of likely voters would support a five percent spending cut — taxpayers want a government that keeps its promises and controls its spending, not one with an unlimited line of credit. If President Trump and Congressional Republicans cannot achieve a fiscally sane agreement with Congressional Democrats, they should walk away. No deal is better than a bad deal.


Massive Budget Deal Would Add Huge Debt on Trump’s Watch
Congress Must Fully Offset Any Budget Control Act Cap Deal
Winfree: With Budget Deal, Trump’s Fiscal Legacy No Different Than Obama, Bush
Art of the Budget Deal: Trump, Pelosi Agree to Up Spending and Debt

Heritage Action opposes the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.