Rep. Andy Barr: Nation's debt most pressing problem; a plan should offset cost of disaster aid

February 4, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, represents the 6th District.

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  • At issue: Jan. 9 commentary by Dan Lodgson, "Barr, Massie already serving ideology over people in need"

As I have traveled throughout the 6th District, people have asked me repeatedly to stand firm for common sense and fiscal responsibility by finding ways to pay for what the federal government spends.

We need to fulfill our responsibility to those Americans most in need, but not by continuing to pile endless debt on our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When they sent me to represent them in Washington, the people of the 6th District told me they had one priority: addressing our national debt crisis and getting our financial house in order, so we can get our economy back on track and Americans back to work.

If this was an easy task, it would have happened already. Too many Congresses have too often voted for worthy programs without paying for them. This must change.

Avoiding a debt crisis will mean tough votes for me and my colleagues. In fact, it already has.

Some have questioned my vote against spending to provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This was important aid, but it wasn't paid for and simply added to our debt.

I support providing storm victims with the federal assistance they need, but we must ensure that additional disaster relief spending is offset with savings from other federal programs.

In fact, during the debate on Hurricane Sandy relief, I voted for an amendment which would have done exactly that. But because the final package contained no offsets and included spending unrelated to the urgent needs of Hurricane Sandy victims, I could not, in good conscience, support the final bill.

We must also achieve structural reform in federal disaster relief programs — which are currently bankrupt — to ensure our nation's long-term capacity to assist victims of natural disasters in the future. I believe that if we work long enough and try hard enough, we can find ways to provide immediate help to disaster victims without further bankrupting America.

We also need to do the hard work to agree on a federal budget. Kentucky families and businesses have to live on a budget; but the United States Senate hasn't passed a budget in nearly four years. Congress shouldn't be exempt from the rules that apply to the people who sent us here.

That's why, when voting to temporarily raise our debt limit last week, the House also set the stage for a broader debate about responsible spending. We made a bold statement: If the House and Senate can't pass budgets, Congress shouldn't get paid.

Our legislation will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government's spending addiction, which will help create more jobs for America's hardworking families.

The bill will require the House and Senate each to pass a budget, and member pay will be withheld if they fail. The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.

Congress must do its job providing for those in need while meeting our responsibility to future generations of Americans by agreeing to — and keeping to — a budget.

I am willing to work as long as it takes to complete the job that I was sent here to do by the people of the district: set a budget and help get our country back on a path to living within our means.

At issue: Jan. 9 commentary by Dan Lodgson, "Barr, Massie already serving ideology over people in need"

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