WASHINGTON, D.C. —
On Oct. 1, the United States experienced the first government shutdown since 1996. The constituents of Oklahoma’s Third District and many others across the country have felt the negative effects of the shutdown and are sadly still feeling them today. Everything from the closure of the national parks, USDA stopping collection of market data, VA administrative delays and the furlough of many federal workers has directly impacted Americans nationwide at a time when they can ill afford it. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more they will suffer.
It was my goal to avoid this shutdown; unfortunately, this goal wasn’t accomplished. For at least three years, there have been strong philosophical differences between the House, Senate and President Obama on how much money our federal government should spend annually. Congress has failed to pass a single appropriations bill this year because of these differences, and this is what eventually led us to the shutdown we are facing today.
The U.S. debt currently stands at an astronomical $17 trillion. The House knows that our country can’t afford to add more to this number and continue down the destructive path of out-of-control spending. We have worked tirelessly in the House to address these issues by passing a long-term budget that reduces spending and eliminates waste and abuse in government programs. The House budget provides a $4.6 trillion reduction in the national deficit and balances the budget during a 10 year time frame.
While the House wants our federal government to spend less and restore fiscal accountability, the Senate has insisted on spending more, financed by tax increases. Incredibly, the president wants to spend even more. Under the White House budget, an additional $8.2 trillion in new debt would be incurred during the next 10 years. In addition, Obama’s budget would increase taxes by $1.1 trillion.
On top of the spending and taxes already proposed in the president’s budget, Obamacare would add an additional $1 trillion in tax increases. Americans have voiced their opposition to this flawed law and continue to see negative effects as it is implemented. I believe that it is critical that we continue to address these concerns, and the House has acted to do so by voting more than 40 times to repeal or defund Obamacare.
I don’t know if the president will ever realize that our country can’t continue spending at this rate. However, it is crucial that we stand firm and try to force a major change in the trajectory of federal spending to create certainty for Americans and generations to come. My constituents and many others across the country have unanimously pushed for this type of change for a long time, and it is important for us to compel the president to get our fiscal house in order.
Ultimately, differences must be resolved for this government shutdown to end. Looking forward, it is my hope that Congressional leaders and the president will sit down together and come up with a long-term solution that will re-open the federal government and create economic certainty in our country. The American people are depending on it.
REP. FRANK LUCAS represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District. He may be reached by calling his Yukon office at 373-1958 or his Washington, D.C., office at 202-225-5565.