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Congress’s Constitutionally Mandated Duty


Allen West


August 30, 2023

Greetings, everyone. Well, August is coming to an end this week, and school has already begun here in Texas, and possibly where you live. Labor Day weekend is just days away which represents the unofficial end of summer. This also means an end to the August summer recess of the US Congress, House of Representatives and Senate. I think we need to understand the origin of this continued tradition.

Back before the advent of air conditioning — July 17, 1902, thank you Willis Haviland Carrier —  Congress would recess during the extremely hot and humid month of August in Washington, DC. Washington, DC, was actually built upon low-lying swampland and the humidity can be unbearable. However, with modern-day accommodations of air conditioning and tunnels, precluding one from even walking outside from House to Capitol to Senate, the original intent of recess, now a taxpayer-funded vacation, is no longer required.

What did I do during “recess” when I was a member of Congress? One August, I went on a congressional visit to Israel, as the district I represented had a very large Jewish population. The other August was spent in the district office and visiting many small businesses in the area, as I was on the Small Business Committee.

However, should our Congressional Representatives be afforded a recess in August if they have not met, or even close to meeting, their only constitutionally mandated duty? The legislative branch has the most constitutionally enumerated powers of our three branches of government. But, one that is mandated is to pass an annual budget. This is something that has not been done in years.

What does it mean to “pass a budget?”

Congress, House and Senate, is tasked with passing 12 appropriations bills, which signify the funding of the federal government. At the time of this writing, there has only been one funding appropriations bill passed, and that is in the House of Representatives. These appropriations bills must all be passed, and reconciled between the House and Senate, by the end of September. If you have been paying attention to the news, we are already hearing the ruminations about government shutdowns, which is not really a shutdown, and continuing resolutions (CRs). A continuing resolution means that the government continues to operate at current funding levels, they are stop-gap spending measures, and unconstitutional. Then, what happens at the end of the year, in December right before Christmas and New Year’s recess, yep, a massive omnibus spending bill. Thousands of pages of government spending that no one reads, is unconstitutional and is immediately passed.

Sadly, it is a story that repeats itself, regardless of Republicans or Democrats, year after year.

This is unacceptable. How many of you, everyday American citizens, if you had a job with one mandated duty that you did not accomplish, would still be paid? Yet, there is no accountability or responsibility for this incessant failure of constitutional fiscal responsibility.

What are some remedies for this travesty?

First of all, the federal government needs to be held to a standard of fiscal responsibility. I have always maintained that the baseline budget system that is used needs to be eliminated. The federal government uses a system that increases its spending each year. I remember being in the Army and being told to ensure you spend down your budgeted funds and submit unforecasted requests so that an increase in your budget could be justified. Each year, the federal government increases spending off the previous baseline. A cut to spending is not a true cut to spending, it is a cut, often minuscule, to the rate of increase of spending.

The federal government should be on a zero-based budget system, which is what households and businesses utilize, which means each budget cycle, every spending line item, program has to be justified to be maintained and funded.

As well, we have to rein in the federal government’s ability to print money, manipulate interest rates, spend money they do not have (deficit spending) and borrow money to hide its fiscal failures. The ones who end up carrying this burden are American taxpayers. I find it abjectly ludicrous that progressive socialists would keep demanding Americans pay their fair share (except Hunter Biden) to mask the utter debacle of fiscal sanity emanating from Washington, DC. We have a debt-to-GDP ratio that is near 130 percent, meaning our debt is surpassing our gross domestic product. The rise in interest rates is killing small community banks, and affecting new car and home purchases. The excessive printing of money is devaluing our currency.

But, all is well, Congress is coming back from its recess.

The next GOP presidential debate is in September, held by Fox Business News. The sole focus of this debate must be on restoring fiscal responsibility, sanity, and proper budgeting systems to our federal government. This cannot continue.

Americans cannot Live Free if our nation is in massive debt.

Steadfast and Loyal.



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