How the House Delegation Voted on the Fiscal Responsibility Act

For those brave souls who endured 30 minutes of discussion about the debt limit on Peach Pundit the Podcast, I salute you. For those who didn’t listen, this post from your humble resident “DC insider,” as Scot often calls me, is for you.

The Department of the Treasury hit the debt limit in January and began using extraordinary measures to ensure that obligations were met. The cash available to the Treasury has dwindled. On January 20, the day after the statutory debt limit was reached, the Treasury had an operating cash balance of $455.6 billion. As of this morning, that balance was $48.5 billion. Granted, that figure fluctuates on any given day, but it’s clear that the Treasury is running out of money to meet its obligations, perhaps in the next few days. (The dreaded “X date.) The failure to pay those obligations could severely disrupt the economy.

As you may remember, the House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, H.R. 2811, near the end of April in a close to party-line vote. (Four conservative Republicans voted against the bill, for whatever reason.) The Limit, Save, Grow Act would’ve reduced spending by $4.8 trillion over ten years, with two-thirds of the savings coming from the proposed caps on discretionary spending. Although the proposed work requirements for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) got a lot of attention, the savings amounted to $120 billion over ten years, or roughly 2 percent of the savings.

The Limit, Save, Grow Act was never going to become law. There are too many political realities that the bill ignored, most importantly the fact that Democrats control the Senate and a Democrat is in the White House. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) would undoubtedly argue that the passage of the Limit, Save, Grow Act forced President Biden to the negotiation table. I’m skeptical about such a claim. The closer Congress got to the “X date,” the more likely it was that negotiations would take place. This is why governing by crisis has become the rule for Congress, rather than the exception, especially since the environment has become so frustratingly and annoyingly hyperpartisan.

Over the weekend, President Biden and Speaker McCarthy came to an agreement on the Fiscal Responsibility Act, H.R. 3746. The bill suspends the debt limit through the end of 2024, establishes caps on discretionary spending in FY 2024 and FY 2025, and sets targets for discretionary spending in FY 2026, FY 2027, FY 2028, and FY 2029. The bill also includes a 1 percent cut in discretionary spending should Congress not complete work on the 12 appropriations bills, rescinds some funding for the Internal Revenue Service and unobligated COVID-19 funding, and expands work requirements for SNAP and TANF. There are a few spending items as well.

Overall, though, the Fiscal Responsibility Act saves $1.5 trillion relative to the Congressional Budget Office baseline, but the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the savings could be as low as $1 trillion or as high as $2.1 trillion.

Of course, the drivers of federal budget deficits and debt are Medicare and Social Security, and those programs, which represent roughly 29 percent of federal spending FY 2023 and nearly 36 percent in FY 2029 (based on current law, not accounting for the proposed changes), aren’t touched by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Under current law, discretionary spending is almost 27 percent of federal spending in FY 2023 and, not accounting for the proposed changes, 27 percent in FY 2029. Be that as it may, the Fiscal Responsibility Act is a decent bill, and it’s better than the alternative, which is default. (No, the Limit, Save, Grow Act wasn’t an alternative because it wasn’t going to pass.)

The House passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act on Wednesday evening by a vote of 314 to 117. How did the House delegation from Georgia vote? Well, I’ve got you covered on the Limit, Save, Grow Act and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Member (Party-District)Limit, Save, Grow ActFiscal Responsibility Act
Rick Allen (R-12)YesYes
Sanford Bishop (D-02)NoYes
Buddy Carter (R-01)YesYes
Andrew Clyde (R-09)YesNo
Mike Collins (R-10)YesNo
Drew Ferguson (R-03)YesYes
Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-14)YesYes
Hank Johnson (D-04)NoYes
Barry Loudermilk (R-11)YesYes
Lucy McBath (D-07)NoYes
Rich McCormick (R-06)YesNo
Austin Scott (R-08)YesYes
David Scott (D-13)NoYes
Nikema Williams (D-05)NoNo

Members released statements either ahead of the vote or after, but only Rep. David Scott actually spoke during the debate on the bill. Rep. Sanford Bishop entered remarks into the record. Two of the three who opposed the bill, Reps. Mike Collins and Rich McCormick, put out statements explaining their votes. The general theme of those statements was that the Fiscal Responsibility Act wasn’t good enough. As one of the ringleaders of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Andrew Clyde said a lot of things about the bill, too many to document here.

Although there were threats of slowing down consideration of the Fiscal Responsibility Act in the Senate, the chamber is considering and processing amendments to the bill as a type this. I believe they’re voting on the seventh of 11 proposed amendments. A vote on final passage could happen as soon as tonight. I haven’t seen anything about how Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff will vote, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t vote in favor of the bill.

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