Senator Ricketts’ Weekly Column: Chuck Schumer’s Shutdown Games
September 29, 2023
Massive and reckless spending to fund big government programs has given us a national debt of over $33 trillion. That’s over $251,000 per household. This debt has real consequences. High debt leads to higher consumer costs and interest rates. It slows economic growth. It stifles opportunities for American families. With stubbornly high inflation, families across the country are tightening their belts to stretch their budgets. This includes families on fixed incomes. Congress has a duty to do the same with federal spending.
We need to get our country’s fiscal house in order. Government funding debates are the time to have those conversations. Congress has a process to pass a budget without the threat of a shutdown. This year, it was supposed to start with the president sending his budget to Congress by February 6th. Despite this statutory deadline, President Biden sent his budget over a month late. This started our budget process behind the 8-ball.
However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has played games with the calendar as well to force his and President Biden’s plan to spend trillions of dollars we don’t have. Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills by September 30th to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 in June and July. For nearly two months, Democrat Leader Schumer could have brought these bills to the Senate floor. We could have debated them, amended them, and ultimately passed final versions. Schumer chose not to do that and contributed to this government shutdown faceoff.
For example, this week, Schumer dropped a 79-page bill to fund the government just 40 minutes before the first vote. Giving Senators 40 minutes to read and consider a bill is typical D.C. dysfunction. Unlike Nancy Pelosi, I’m not going to vote to pass something just to find out what’s in it. Nebraskans deserve better than that.
The bill the Senate considered this week ultimately does nothing to address our wasteful overspending. It keeps spending at bloated Biden levels. It does nothing to secure our border, which is being overrun by cartels trafficking migrants and drugs.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to create a false choice between a wasteful omnibus bill and a government shutdown is manipulative and wrong. I can’t support it. We can’t keep giving Democrats a blank check to spend American tax dollars however they want.
We should have an open government and a closed border. The federal government has a responsibility to fund our national defense and ensure our continued security. That includes closing our open border. We need to fund essential government services. What we don’t need to do is keep throwing around money on partisan causes or unnecessary and wasteful spending projects. The United States Senate is called the “world’s greatest deliberative body”. It is the perfect institution to consider different policy solutions to our fiscal crisis. Government funding debates are the perfect time to have those discussions, but Schumer refused to let that happen.
During my time as Governor of Nebraska, we kept the size and scope of government small. It wasn’t always easy, and it often required tough conversations. Our state is better off because of it. We ran government more like a business. These common-sense ideas enabled us to improve the level of service to families in need, invest in infrastructure like roads and broadband, and provide $12.7 billion in tax relief.
In Nebraska, we kept the growth of government spending to 2.8% on average per year. The federal government, in just the last four years, has grown its spending by 40%. That’s unsustainable and must change. Our federal government must be effective and efficient, not bigger and worse. My experience as Governor proved it’s possible to make those changes. It is a big reason why I want to serve as Senator.
I will continue fighting to get our country’s spending under control. In doing so, we can make sure we continue to provide the essential services Americans expect from the federal government.
Whether the government shuts down or not, all my offices will remain open and fully staffed. My team and I are here to serve you. Contact us anytime by phone at 202-224-4224 or on my website at www.ricketts.senate.gov/contact. I am honored to serve our great state and will continue to work to protect the Good Life from Washington overreach.