PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — As legislators return to Capitol Hill for the new fall session, the top item on the agenda is passing the budget to avoid a government shutdown.
If Congress does not pass a budget by Sept. 30, the government effectively runs out of money and will be at a standstill. This means federal employees won’t get paid, federal agencies will be closed, and federal funding will dry up for organizations like the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard in Peoria.
“We have to manage a balanced budget. We haven’t been able to do that. We have an addiction to spending,” said Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.)
LaHood stressed the budget must be fiscally responsible, as the federal debt currently stands at a whopping $32 trillion, of which $7 trillion is COVID-19-related.
“We are going to be focused on fiscal responsibility, making sure we’re not spending more than we’re bringing in. So that will be a priority… Senate Democrats want to spend more money, the Biden administration wants to spend more money. So that will be a fight that we’re going to engage in. But the bottom line is we can’t let the government shutdown and we have to work for fiscal responsibility,” he said.
As a result of high spending, LaHood said the American public is feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks for gas prices, food prices and utility costs.
“When you have high deficits and you spend too much money, there is a ripple effect and there’s collateral damage that’s done to everyday people,” he said.
Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Ill.) said it seems like the other side is only interested in political theatrics instead of meaningful conversations. He pointed to Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry announcement as an example.
“The Speaker of the House is showing us what is most important to him and his caucus, and we have to understand that is wholly out of line… There’s ten people in the House of Representatives who just want chaos. That’s not how we’re supposed to govern. That’s not how the federal government is supposed to work. And in the end, if that were to happen, the worst case scenario, the people are going to be the ones who suffer,” he said.
There is the option of passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through the end of the year, but Sorensen said even that isn’t being taken seriously by many Republicans.
“Will we even get a continuing resolution? The continuing resolution allows us to take this to the end of the year, but we’ve got some extremists here that just want chaos. They don’t even want to talk about a continuing resolution to continue this,” he said.
LaHood said working across the aisle is crucial to passing a budget.
“It’s time to balance the budget so that has to be done in a bipartisan way, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to try to achieve that balanced budget,” he said.