Alexander Votes to Fund National Defense, National Laboratories, National Parks and the National Institutes of Health

Posted on August 1, 2019

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, discretionary spending has risen at about the rate of inflation the past 10 years, and is projected to continue to rise at about the rate of inflation over the next 10 years. The real driver of federal debt is entitlement spending—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest.” — Senator Lamar Alexander

The chart above illustrates all federal spending over the last 10 years and the projected spending for the next 10 years. Discretionary spending (blue line), is under control. Mandatory spending (red line), is causing out-of-control federal debt.

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2019 — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, saying it increases discretionary spending, which funds our national defense, national laboratories, national parks and the National Institutes of Health, which “is not the part of the federal budget that is driving our $22 trillion federal debt.”

“What this two year budget agreement does is important. First, it suspends the debt limit – the amount that the United States can borrow – in order to avoid a global financial crisis. Second, it raises the amount of money that the Appropriations Committee can spend on our national defense, our veterans, national laboratories, biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, and national parks,” Alexander said.

Alexander continued, “This type of spending – discretionary spending – is under control and is not the part of the federal budget that is driving our $22 trillion federal debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office, discretionary spending has risen at about the rate of inflation the past 10 years, and is projected to continue to rise at about the rate of inflation over the next 10 years. The real driver of our out-of-control federal debt is mandatory or entitlement spending—which is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest, and is projected to account for 78 percent of all federal spending in 2029.

Congress cannot balance the budget with cuts to discretionary spending. We should consider a plan like the Fiscal Sustainability Act, which Senator Corker and I introduced, to reduce the growth of entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. The problem was that Senator Corker and I were the only cosponsors.”

The legislation passed the House on July 25 with a bipartisan vote of 284-149 vote and passed the Senate today by a bipartisan vote of 67-28. 

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