Pete Sessions on Budget & Economy
Republican Representative (TX-32)
Proposal: Pass all annual appropriations bills.
Mandatory spending, which does not require annual congressional action, has grown over time to constitute 2/3 of the $3 trillion annual federal budget. Congress must return to passing annual appropriations bills. Passing individual bills is far superior to using a catch-all omnibus. Oftentimes, resorting to an omnibus disenfranchises rank-and-file Members that have not had an opportunity to offer amendments to or vote for or against individual appropriations bills. When Congress puts together an omnibus bill, on the other hand, the administration has much more leverage over the negotiations.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:Rep. MAFFEI: The American people want us to work together--Republicans and Democrats--to reduce our debt, pay our bills, and avoid an economic catastrophe, which would result from default. This legislation presumes it will happen and maps out not if but what happens when the United States defaults. Their plan ensures that foreign creditors such as China, Japan, and OPEC countries Iran and Saudi Arabia would continue to get paid while we halt other payments to groups of Americans who have earned those benefits. This bill prioritizes Chinese lenders ahead of American seniors and veterans and college students. That's why it's called the Pay China First Act.
White House statement in opposition:American families do not get to choose which bills to pay and which ones not to pay, and the United States Congress cannot either without putting the nation into default for the first time in its history. This bill would threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, cost American jobs, hurt businesses of all sizes and do damage to the economy. It would cause the nation to default on payments for Medicare, veterans, national security and many other critical priorities. This legislation is unwise, unworkable, and unacceptably risky."
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Biggert, R-IL]: The HAMP Termination Act would put an end to the poster child for failed Federal foreclosure programs. The program has languished for 2 years, hurt hundreds of thousands of homeowners, and must come to an end. This bill would save $1.4 billion over 10 years. To date, the HAMP program has already consumed $840 million of the more than $30 billion of TARP funds that were set aside for the program. For this extraordinary investment, the administration predicted that 3 to 4 million homeowners would receive help. HAMP has hurt more homeowners than it has helped. The program has completed about 540,000 mortgage modifications. Another 740,000 unlucky homeowners had their modifications cancelled.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Capuano, D-MA]: This is a program that I'm the first to admit has not lived up to what our hopes were. This program we had hoped would help several million people. Thus far we've only helped about 550,000 people. But to simply repeal all of these programs is to walk away from individual homeowners, walk away from neighborhoods. I'm not going to defend every single aspect of this program, and I am happy to work with anyone to make it better, to help more people to keep their homes, & keep their families together. To simply walk away without offering an alternative means we don't care; this Congress doesn't care if you lose your home, period. Now, I understand if that makes me a bleeding-heart liberal according to some people, so be it.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.
We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.
Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.
Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:
Opponent's argument to vote No:
Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.
Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): Last year, after we responded to the urgent pleas of the Bush administration to authorize the $700 billion deployment of Federal funds to unstick the credit markets, many of us became very unhappy, [because Bush] repudiated commitments to use a significant part of the fund to diminish foreclosures. If we do not pass this bill today, we will make no progress in what is the single biggest economic problem we've been facing, namely, the foreclosure crisis.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): There has been a lot of money spent to try to bail out the financial industry, and nothing seems to be working. I think it's mainly because we haven't admitted that excessive spending can cause financial problems, & excessive debt and inflation can cause problems.
Actually, the recession is therapy for all of the mistakes, but the mistakes come, basically, from a Federal Reserve system that's causing too many people to make mistakes. Interest rates are lower than they should be, so they don't save. That contributes to what we call "moral hazard" as well as the system of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac system. With the assumption that we're all going to be bailed out, people say, "Well, no sweat because, if there is a mistake, the government will come to our rescue." A private FDIC would never permit this massive malinvestment. There would be regulations done in the marketplace, and there would not be this distortion that we've ended up with.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): This economy is in the worst shape that it has been in since the Great Depression. This Congress voted 2 months ago to advance $25 billion to the auto industry to promote innovation. This $15 billion is an additional "bridge loan."
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SPENCER BACHUS (R, AL-6): We all understand that the bankruptcy of either GM or Chrysler would have a cascading effect on other manufacturers. But I cannot support this plan because it spends taxpayer money without any real promise to return the industry to profitability. I see several glaring flaws. We are creating a new car czar to manage these companies from Washington; not a CEO, but a car czar. Second, this legislation actually imposes new and expensive mandates on our automobile companies. Third, this legislation imposes Federal Government management on the Big Three, the wisdom of Washington. It is clear that the management of these companies have made mistakes, many mistakes, but to set up a command and control Federal bureaucrat is exactly the wrong solution.
Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): The problems that we are facing today date back to 1971. But we don't seem to want to go back and find out how financial bubbles form and why they burst. Instead, we just carry on doing the same old thing and never look back. We spend more money, we run up more debt, we print more money, and we think that is going to solve the problem that was created by spending too much money, running up debt, printing too much money. Today, we are talking about tinkering on the edges without dealing with the big problem.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.
It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.
Opponents argument for voting NAY: Rep. BARTON of Texas: [My first issue the bill is that by the bill's own definition], we don't have price gouging in the US today. We do have high prices. But the reason we have that price is not because of price gouging at retail. I am not aware of any pending State action on price gouging, and almost every State has State law to go after price gougers.
The second issue with the bill, it requires the declaration of a Presidential energy emergency. The bill doesn't give any definition as to why the President should declare an energy emergency; it doesn't define "unconscionably excessive"; it doesn't define when a "seller is taking unfair advantage."
I know there is a lot of pressure on the Congress doing something. I would state we would be better served to look at the underlying fundamentals that address the supply situation.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. WATERS: This bill preserves public housing. The administration eliminated the one-for-one replacement requirement in 1996, effectively triggering a national sloughing off of our Nation's public housing inventory. Housing authorities have consistently built back fewer units than they have torn down and, as a result, over 30,000 units have been lost. I urge you to support our Nation's low-income families and to preserve our housing stock.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HENSARLING: President Reagan once said that the nearest thing to eternal life on Earth is a Federal program, and I don't think there is any better case study than perhaps the HOPE VI program. If there was ever a program that cried out for termination, it's this one.
This program began in 1992 with a very noble purpose of taking 86,000 units of severely distressed public housing and replacing them, demolishing them. Well, it achieved its mission. But somewhere along the line we had this thing in Washington known as mission creep.
We already have 80-plus Federal housing programs, and the budget for Federal housing programs has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from $15.4 billion to more than $30 billion now. So it's very hard to argue that somehow Federal housing programs have been shortchanged.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 271-130
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. FRANK: This legislation seeks to prevent a repetition of events that caused one of the most serious financial crises in recent times. We have a worldwide problem economically, with a terrible shortage of credit. Innovations in the mortgage industry, in themselves good and useful, but conducted in such a completely unregulated manner as to have led to this crisis. The fundamental principle of the bill is not to put remedies into place, but to stop future problems from occurring in the first place. We have had two groups of mortgage originators: banks subject to the regulation of the bank regulators; and then mortgage loans made by brokers who were subject to no regulation. The secondary market has been on the whole useful but, having been unregulated, has caused some problems.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. HENSARLING: This is a bad bill for homeowners in America. There is no doubt that this Nation faces a great challenge in the subprime market, but this piece of legislation is going to make the situation worse. Clearly, there has to be enforcement against fraud in the subprime market. But what Congress should not do is essentially outlaw the American Dream for many struggling families who may be of low income, who may have checkered credit pasts, for whom a subprime mortgage is the only means to purchase a home.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit an individual to designate three dollars on his or her income tax return (six dollars on a joint return) to be used to reduce the public debt of the United States.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT: Pres. Eisenhower apparently once said that he believed that there could be no surplus as long as our Nation was in debt. I come from that school of thought, and yet that is not exactly where we are right now in Washington.
Where we are right now is debating whether or not 90 percent or 50 percent, or some number in between, of these projected future surpluses should be allocated to the debt. What struck me is the fact that really more than just the Congress should be involved in that debate. It is for that reason that I introduce today the Taxpayers' Choice Debt Reduction Act.
What this bill would do would be to simply take the 1040, the tax return as we now know it. And right now, we can send $3 to the presidential campaign. This would create another box wherein we could send 3 bucks to debt reduction. That is not enough money to change our national debt, but it is enough money to make a small step in an important debate that we all ought to be a part of.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means; never called for a House vote.
Constitutional Amendment to prohibit outlays for a fiscal year (except those for repayment of debt principal) from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year (except those derived from borrowing) unless Congress, by a three-fifths rollcall vote of each chamber, authorizes a specific excess of outlays over receipts.
This article shall take effect beginning with the later of the second fiscal year beginning after its ratification or the first fiscal year beginning after December 31, 2016.
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act directs:
The Prioritize Spending Act requires amounts necessary for incurred federal obligations, in the event that the public debt reaches the statutory limit, to be made available to certain obligations, in prioritized order, before all other obligations. Prioritizes such obligations in the following descending order:
Project Vote Smart inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Economy: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?' PVS self-description: "The Political Courage Test provides voters with positions on key issues. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads."
This bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses:
Rep. Kevin McCarthy in OPPOSITION (3/11/21): The so-called American Rescue Plan imposed a $1.9 trillion new burden on American families. Despite being branded as 'COVID relief,' only 9% of funds in this bill actually goes to defeating the virus, and almost half of the money, including more than 95% of the education funds, will not be spent until 2022 or later. After a year of struggle and sacrifice, students and parents get no answer to the vital question of when they can expect schools to reopen full time. President Biden wants Americans to believe 'help is on the way.' But under this bill, it isn't; waste is.
Biden Administration in SUPPORT (2/26/21): ARPA provides the tools and support critical to tackle the urgent public health and economic crises the Nation faces as a result of COVID-19. The bill also provides eligible Americans with a $1,400 payment in addition to the $600 payment provided in December of 2020. The bill also extends key emergency unemployment benefits, and raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Legislative Outcome: Passed House 219-212-1 on 2/27/21; passed Senate 50-49-1 on 3/6/21; signed by President on 3/11/21.
|2021-22 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Budget & Economy:||Pete Sessions on other issues:|
George P. Bush
Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez
|Republican Freshman class of 2021:
AL-1: Jerry Carl(R)
AL-2: Barry Moore(R)
CA-8: Jay Obernolte(R)
CA-50: Darrell Issa(R)
CO-3: Lauren Boebert(R)
FL-3: Kat Cammack(R)
FL-15: Scott Franklin(R)
FL-19: Byron Donalds(R)
GA-9: Andrew Clyde(R)
GA-14: Marjorie Taylor Greene(R)
IA-2: Mariannette Miller-Meeks(R)
IA-4: Randy Feenstra(R)
IL-15: Mary Miller(R)
IN-5: Victoria Spartz(R)
KS-1: Tracey Mann(R)
KS-2: Jake LaTurner(R)
LA-5: Luke Letlow(R)
MI-3: Peter Meijer(R)
MI-10: Lisa McClain(R)
MT-0: Matt Rosendale(R)
NC-11: Madison Cawthorn(R)
NM-3: Teresa Leger Fernandez(D)
NY-2: Andrew Garbarino(R)
NY-22: Claudia Tenney(R)
OR-2: Cliff Bentz(R)
PR-0: Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon(R)
TN-1: Diana Harshbarger(R)
TX-4: Pat Fallon(R)
TX-11: August Pfluger(R)
TX-13: Ronny Jackson(R)
TX-17: Pete Sessions(R)
TX-22: Troy Nehls(R)
TX-23: Tony Gonzales(R)
TX-24: Beth Van Duyne(R)
UT-1: Blake Moore(R)
VA-5: Bob Good(R)
WI-5: Scott Fitzgerald(R)
Incoming Democratic Freshman class of 2021:
CA-53: Sara Jacobs(D)
GA-5: Nikema Williams(D)
GA-7: Carolyn Bourdeaux(D)
HI-2: Kai Kahele(D)
IL-3: Marie Newman(D)
IN-1: Frank Mrvan(D)
MA-4: Jake Auchincloss(D)
MO-1: Cori Bush(D)
NC-2: Deborah Ross(D)
NC-6: Kathy Manning(D)
NY-15: Ritchie Torres(D)
NY-16: Jamaal Bowman(D)
NY-17: Mondaire Jones(D)
WA-10: Marilyn Strickland(D)
Republican takeovers as of 2021:
CA-21: David Valadao(R) defeated T.J. Cox(D)
CA-39: Young Kim(R) defeated Gil Cisneros(D)
CA-48: Michelle Steel(R) defeated Harley Rouda(D)
FL-26: Carlos Gimenez(R) defeated Debbie Mucarsel-Powell(D)
FL-27: Maria Elvira Salazar(R) defeated Donna Shalala(D)
IA-1: Ashley Hinson(R) defeated Abby Finkenauer(D)
MN-7: Michelle Fischbach(R) defeated Collin Peterson(D)
NM-2: Yvette Herrell(R) defeated Xochitl Small(D)
NY-11: Nicole Malliotakis(R) defeated Max Rose(D)
OK-5: Stephanie Bice(R) defeated Kendra Horn(D)
SC-1: Nancy Mace(R) defeated Joe Cunningham(D)
UT-4: Burgess Owens(R) defeated Ben McAdams(D)
Special Elections 2021-2022:
CA-22: replacing Devin Nunes (R, SPEL summer 2022)
FL-20: replacing Alcee Hastings (D, SPEL Jan. 2022)
LA-2: Troy Carter (R, April 2021)
LA-5: Julia Letlow (R, March 2021)
NM-1: Melanie Stansbury (D, June 2021)
OH-11: Shontel Brown (D, Nov. 2021)
OH-15: Mike Carey (R, Nov. 2021)
TX-6: Jake Ellzey (R, July 2021)