Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on Fiscal Responsibility Act

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. Today we are considering a single item, H.R. 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

This bill is the culmination of bipartisan negotiations between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy to responsibly raise the debt ceiling while enacting significant spending cuts and reforms.

For months, despite repeated requests from Speaker McCarthy, President Biden, and Congressional Democrats refused to negotiate with House Republicans, insisting on nothing less than a clean debt limit hike.

But while the President dithered, House Republicans acted. Last month, we passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, a bill that responsibly coupled a lift in the debt ceiling with needed fiscal reforms. Indeed, we are the only ones in Washington who acted to address this looming problem. No House Democrat voted for this bill, and unsurprisingly, the Senate has yet to vote on any bill to lift the debt ceiling.

But despite the long delays caused by President Biden and Senate Democrats, we have finally reached an agreement.  Today’s bill is a product of compromise—and reflects the realities of a divided government. We shouldn’t allow that to overshadow what this bill accomplishes. As I’ve often said, in a true negotiation, you always get less than you want and give up more than you’d like. But with passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, we will responsibly lift the debt ceiling and avoid a default that would devastate the American economy.

And we will achieve real reductions in spending while doing so. Indeed, this is the most consequential spending reduction bill in more than a decade. We are cutting spending year over year and will be spending less in fiscal year 2024 than we are in fiscal year 2023. That has never happened before in combination with legislation on the debt ceiling. We accomplished this while giving an appropriate increase to defense spending and without cutting money for veterans.

We will limit future spending increases to one percent annual growth for the next six years. We are clawing back $28 billion in unspent COVID pandemic relief money that is no longer needed, which is the largest rescission in history. We are cutting $1.4 billion that would have been spent on IRS agents.

Importantly, this bill also achieves real policy victories. The bill includes major reforms to work requirements for SNAP and TANF to incentivize able-bodied adults without dependents to rejoin the workforce and contribute to their communities. The bill blocks the President’s demand for $5 trillion in new taxes. And it includes real permitting reform that will speed up the approval process for infrastructure and energy projects.

I understand that many members on both sides of the aisle will be dissatisfied with this package. Some of my friends in the minority may not like cutting back spending, and some of my friends in the majority may feel this doesn’t go far enough, and there are certainly members like me who would like to spend more on defense than is provided in this bill. But that is to be expected in divided government. At the end of the day, the American people expect us all, Republicans and Democrats alike, to work together for the good of the nation. And when we take this bill to the floor, that is exactly what we will achieve.


May 30, 2023