I have heard from many friends and constituents with questions about the new Budget Control Act. This bill is so important, I want to clear up any misinformation and make sure you have the facts. That’s why I’m going to send you a series of email newsletters explaining the different parts of this legislation.
One of the most talked-about parts of the bill is the creation of a bipartisan, 12-member Joint Committee. I want to make sure you know what this committee is, and what it isn’t. This committee is not just another commission filled with people who have no accountability to taxpayers that will meet for months and publish recommendations that will just be ignored.
This 12-person committee will be made up of six current members of the House and six current members of the Senate. There will be three Republicans and three Democrats from the House, and three Republicans and three Democrats from the Senate. Requiring the members of this committee to be current office holders ensures they are accountable to taxpayers.
This Joint Committee is charged with the critical task of formulating a proposal that cuts spending by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade. At least seven members of the committee must vote in favor of the proposal before it can be submitted to Congress. The committee must submit their proposal to Congress by November 23, 2011. The House and Senate are then required to vote on the proposal by December 23, 2011. Amendments will not be allowed, and neither will a filibuster.
If the Joint Committee fails to have a proposal enacted into law with at least $1.2 trillion cuts by the December 23rd deadline, a process called “sequestration” is triggered. “Sequestration” means that automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will go into effect over the course of nine years. Very few government programs would be exempt from these cuts. Exemptions include Medicaid and Social Security.
While the Budget Control Act is not perfect, it is a common sense way to force Congress to come together and begin turning our massive debt problem around. We must regain a strong sense of fiscal responsibility, and this committee brings us one step closer to this goal.