EXCLUSIVE: Senate Republicans push for national commission to balance budget after massive Covid relief

Story on the Washington Examiner website here: EXCLUSIVE: Senate Republicans push for national commission to balance budget

Senate Republicans will introduce legislation Thursday to create a new bipartisan national commission to reduce the deficit and balance the federal budget within 10 years.

Republicans are concerned about runaway government spending and how it will be funded after Congress spent nearly $6 trillion in pandemic relief last year while the Biden administration is gearing up to spend trillions more.

“We are on an unsustainable trajectory. We’ve become numb to the word ‘trillion,’” said Sen Cynthia Lummis, a Wyoming Republican and the lead sponsor of the Sustainable Budget Act.

“At the rate we are going, the United States could soon spend more money on interest on the national debt than it does on defense,” Lummis told the Washington Examiner before the bill’s introduction.

The legislation will be co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota.

The bill would establish within the legislative branch a new entity known as the "National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform."

The purpose of the commission would be to find policies to improve the fiscal situation of the federal government in the medium and long term by balancing the national budget.

In particular, this would include "changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government."

Entitlement spending primarily consists of federal government programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The national debt currently sits at $28 trillion. Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office projected in February that the federal government's deficit for fiscal year 2021 is $2.3 trillion, which will be the second biggest annual deficit since World War II.

The commission would consist of 18 members chosen by the president, the speaker of the House, the House minority leader, and Senate majority and minority leaders.

The panel would be given the power to hold hearings, secure pertinent information from federal agencies, and seek help from certain congressional entities to conduct its work.

The new commission is modeled on an old one from the Obama administration called the Simpson-Bowles, which in 2010 released a plan aimed at balancing the budget and reducing federal deficits by nearly $4 trillion.

President Barack Obama did not embrace the commission's plans to reduce government spending through entitlement reform and to raise taxes by removing tax deductions for certain home mortgage loans, employer-paid health insurance, and adding a 15-cent federal gas tax.

“At this point, we need a plan far more ambitious than Simpson-Bowles to get us out of the pit. I hope my colleagues will recognize the gravity of this situation and will join me in addressing our national debt,” Lummis said.