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Reps. Arrington, Peters Introduce H.R. 6139, the Responsible Budgeting Act

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX-19) and Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the Responsible Budgeting Act, legislation to fundamentally alter and improve the way our nation’s debt limit is addressed. This legislation would provide an alternate and fiscally responsible process to addressing the debt limit, guaranteeing a much-needed debate and venue for consequential policy solutions to reign in our nation’s skyrocketing debt trajectory.

“The biggest threat to our nation’s prosperity and security is our unsustainable national debt.The congressional budget process is fundamentally broken with little to no accountability nor fiscal responsibility for both parties,”said Rep. Arrington.“I am proud to join my friend, Rep. Scott Peters, in introducing legislation that would help dispense with the current debt ceiling dysfunction and incentivize Congress to act responsibly with taxpayer resources and the fiscal future of nation.”

“Failing to extend the debt limit can have catastrophic consequences, and we must stop playing politics with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. These games, however, are a symptom of a bigger problem: Congress currently doesn’t have a bipartisan way to deal with our national debt,”said Rep. Peters.“This bill will eliminate the dangerous threats of the debt limit while putting us on a path towards greater fiscal health. If we can tackle the brinksmanship associated with the debt ceiling and improve Congress’ approach to budgeting, we can ensure a stronger, more stable economic future. I’m pleased to join my friend Rep. Arrington to lead this important effort.”

Bill Hoagland, Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center:"For the past decade, we at BPC have highlighted the costs and risks associated with the federal debt limit. The Responsible Budgeting Act would ensure the debt limit never threatens our economy again, and at the same time, would provide an opportunity for substantive legislative debate over proposals to restore fiscal responsibility. This type of well-crafted bipartisan solution is a model for how we should tackle our economic challenges together."

Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:“The Responsible Budgeting Act would effectively nudge lawmakers to make needed fiscal reforms, while lessening the dangerous default scenario that we too often flirt with. It is important to build in speed bumps in the budget process so we can regularly assess if we are on a smart fiscal path. But those speed bumps should encourage smart reforms rather than leave the U.S. vulnerable to the massive damage default could cause.We applaud Representatives Arrington and Peters for reaching this smart bipartisan compromise to reform the debt ceiling.”

Former U.S. Congressman Dave Camp, former Chairman, House Ways & Means Committee:“Our nation must address its significant and growing deficits and debt, however, we must also ensure that the U.S. Government makes good on the debts it has already incurred. The Responsible Budgeting Act will force the Administration and Congress to confront the pending debt crisis while also ensuring the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.”

Doug Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum:“Far too often approaching the debt limit has engendered legislative brinksmanship. This fosters toxic politics, endangers the underpinnings of the global financial system, and exposes the taxpayer to unnecessary risk. A solution must be found.”

Brian Riedl, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute:“The debt limit was meant to ensure that Washington’s bills are paid on time, while also creating a pressure point for reforms to rein in future deficits. Unfortunately, over the past several years, it has stopped serving as any brake on Washington red ink. New creative solutions are needed to get lawmakers’ attention and motivate reform, and I commend these membersfor their thoughtful contribution to this debate."


The bill would provide two new avenues for addressing the debt limit:

First, if Congress passes a concurrent budget resolution that meets a certain fiscal threshold (reducing debt/GDP in the tenth year by at least five percentage points), it would automatically generate separate legislation to suspend the debt limit through the end of the following fiscal year. Only the president’s signature would be required for that suspension to go into effect.

Second, if Congress has not acted on a budget resolution by the statutory April 15 deadline, or if the debt limit is close to being reached, the president would be granted the authority to request a suspension through the following fiscal year, which would go into effect pending congressional action.

For the president to use this authority, the debt limit suspension request to Congress would need to be accompanied by a qualified legislative debt reduction proposal. In addition to the proposal, there would be an integrated congressional process, managed by the budget committees and resulting in floor votes in each chamber on debt reduction legislation.


Congressman Jodey Arrington is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. He serves as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.