March 23, 2021

Smith Opening Statement: House Budget Committee Members’ Day Hearing

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Chairman – thank you for holding today’s Members’ Day hearing.

This Committee and its members have been rather busy these past few weeks. Unfortunately, it is regretful that a lot of that work was done with the aim of pushing a nearly $1.9 trillion bailout bill out the door as quickly as possible – affording as little amount of debate, forethought, or review of existing resources as possible.

On that last point, Republican members of this Committee have called for an accounting of the approximately $1 trillion from previously enacted COVID packages still unspent – an accounting we should have had before another $1.9 trillion was signed into law.

Going forward, this Committee has a responsibility and obligation to American taxpayers to provide thorough oversight of the now $3 trillion in taxpayer money approved in the last 90 days alone.

Now we are hearing of an unelected, non-Senate confirmed ‘”czar” based in California overseeing this fund. What will their reporting obligation be to this Committee? What reports will they produce? How will they measure success? When will we know if some of this money can be returned to the taxpayer? The American people are owed at least that level of transparency.

Speaking of transparency. Since taking office, President Biden has found time to enact a sweeping series of executive orders – some of which fired American workers and others have worsened a crisis at the southern border by ending things like the stay in Mexico policy, a return to catch and release, and even rolling back the emergency declaration at the southern border and halting wall construction.

The President has also found time to travel the country telling Americans that Washington just borrowed another $1.9 trillion to spark a recovery that is actually already occurring.

Sadly, he’s apparently found no time to send Congress a budget to account for these and future policies. In fact, it has been 50 days since President Biden was supposed to submit a budget under the deadline established by the ‘74 Budget Act.

As of March 16, President Biden now holds the record for the latest a President has ever submitted a first year in office budget outline to Congress in the modern budget era. We haven’t even received an outline of a plan or, for that matter, a date certain when we will see a budget.

This is not just some exercise. Budgets matter. As Speaker Pelosi likes to say, “show me your budget; show me your values.” What are we then to take by a lack of a budget from this President over 60 days into his presidency?

It is my understanding Mr. Chairman that you all plan to do a Fiscal Year 2022 budget – just as soon as you see something from the President. I hope you will push as strongly as we have to get such a budget from the President and soon so we can get this important process moving forward in a serious and transparent manner.

It is no secret that Democrats wish to impose some form of a Green New Deal-like program on America as well as a broader Washington intrusion into our health care. Just yesterday it was reported the Administration is considering a $3 trillion plan covering any number of policy areas. There’s been plenty of talk about raising taxes.

Where’s the budget plan for all of that? Where’s the accounting for how high those taxes will need to go or debt will need to rise to satisfy that agenda?

Right now, we don’t know. We don’t know because the Biden Administration has not shown the American people a plan.

And we need to look no further than the current crisis at the border for why such transparency matters to policymaking.

It is costing taxpayers roughly $775 per day to provide room and board for each unaccompanied minor who crosses the southern border. More than 9,000 minors came in February 2021. At just that current rate, the projected cost just this year to care for minors crossing the border is $9 billion.

By comparison, we spend roughly $35 per student per day for K-12 education in this country. So, we are spending 22 times that cost per day per child at the border.

This is the result of the actions or lack of action we see from the Administration when it comes to our border. But those harmful policies are part of a broader agenda for which we need an accounting from the Biden Administration.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to working with you as we carry out the duties and responsibilities of this Committee.