Oklahoma Congressman Kevin Hern is on a mission to cut federal spending, which he said has been ‘out of control’ under President Biden.
“Incredible spending,” said Hern (R-OK1) in an interview Tuesday. “We know that inflation has been caused by excessive spending and now we’re seeing a rise of some 10 to 20 percent.”
Rep. Hern is referring to the FY 2023 budget proposed by President Biden, which would increase non-defense discretionary spending by 14 percent. It includes items such as veterans' health care, homeland security, and education.
This week in the House, Democratic leadership began moving some of the twelve appropriations bills that make up the budget. H.R. 8294, legislation containing six of the appropriations bills (1) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, 2) Agriculture, Rural Development, 3) Energy and Water Development, 4) Financial Services and General Government, 5) Interior, Environment, 6) Military Construction, and Veterans Affairs), was approved along party lines Wednesday afternoon, but not without an effort by Rep. Hern to reduce the overall dollar value.
Hern, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and chair of the Republican Study Committee’s budget task force, lobbied for a 20 percent cut to the FY 2022 budget and even more this time around.
"And so our cut this year, we offered 23 percent," Rep. Hern explained, "which is going to get us back to the pre-Biden (spending) levels."
Hern's proposal was one of several amendments debated Tuesday during consideration of the package, and Democrats didn't mince words in voicing their disapproval.
"The draconian cuts are indiscriminate, they're harmful," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), House Appropriations Chair.
"It would slash funding for the Small Business Administration by more than $200 million," complained Rep, Mike Quigley (D-IL).
"It would reduce much-needed investments in rural broadband, electricity, water and waste systems," lamented Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA).
The criticisms piled up and then Hern had a chance to respond.
"What the American people have heard is the only way to move forward is to spend more," said Hern, stating his belief that increased spending is not the answer to the highest inflation the nation has seen in more than 40 years.
"The answer is not to continue spending ourselves into bankruptcy," Hern argued. "There's been no offer -- no offer from my colleagues across the aisle where there's any way to quit spending the amount of money we're seeing today."
Democrats had the last word, though, defeating the amendment on a mostly party-line vote.
But there are still six more spending bills to pass and Hern says he'll keep at it. He said the Federal Reserve is doing what it has to do to try and stop inflation, as should Congress.
"We can do our part, too, by cutting spending and quit being so egregious," Hern said.
House leadership is hoping to pass the remaining appropriations bills next week before the start of the August recess.