Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to a two-year budget deal that will increase federal spending by almost $300 billion:

“To propose increasing federal spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years – on top of spending increases already established – is simply beyond comprehension…Fiscal responsibility is more than a political talking point to trot out when the other guys are in charge…Let’s be conservative no matter who’s in charge, no matter who’s in the White House, or who controls each chamber of Congress.” 

Video of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.

A complete transcript of Flake’s prepared remarks can be viewed below.

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Mr. President, I rise today in opposition to the massive spending increases included in the proposed budget measure.

To propose increasing federal spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years – on top of spending increases already established – is simply beyond comprehension.

This is all with a national debt of $20 trillion and current deficits running $600 billion to $700 billion.

Yet we’re about to vote on a bill to abandon self-imposed limits on federal spending.

And as anyone who has spent any time in Washington knows, once you raise the spending limits it’s next to impossible to get them back down.

Now I love bipartisanship, but not when it’s bought and paid for with billions of taxpayer dollars. And that’s precisely what this measure does. You sprinkle enough money around, you can get bipartisan support.

While I was in the house for 12 years I kept a journal of events. And in December of 2007 when we passed a massive omnibus bill at that time, I noted, and I’ll quote from my journal,

“The Democrats singled out the funding for the Iraq war, which required a separate vote. The tally board on the House chamber wall explaining the vote said the following: ‘Agreeing to House amendment to Senate amendment to House amendment.’ 

Hmmm.  That clears it up. But that’s the point.  Liberal Democrats could vote against the war funding and for more domestic funding.  Conservative Republicans could do the opposite.  Enough moderates in the middle would vote for both pieces of legislation to ensure that each passed separately. 

Then we could all of us, Republicans and Democrats go beat our collective chests and go home for Christmas.  Bipartisanship at its best.

All these shenanigans led one Republican colleague to lean over to me on the House floor and muse:  ‘You know, Jeff, sometimes the toughest thing about being a member of Congress is remembering everything you’re supposed to be outraged about.’”

But here we are today, and it’s clear what we should be outraged about – a $300 billion spending hike, a return to trillion deficits, and the apparent end of any attempt to rein in federal spending.

Fiscal responsibility is more than a political talking point to trot out when the other guys are in charge.

The rules and principles do not change with the legislative session.

It should not take hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending to prompt bipartisanship or secure a budget agreement.

If we Republicans support precisely the kind of reckless spending we have for so long criticized, it will mean the end of genuine fiscal conservatism in Washington and it will establish a government without meaningful spending restraints.

I urge my colleagues to consider their commitment to conservatism and whether or not their past protests over government spending were anything more than convenient political props.

Let’s be conservative no matter who’s in charge, no matter who’s in the White House, or who controls each chamber of Congress.

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