Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., may have taken his state tourism commissioner’s statement to NPR that “money falls from trees [in the fall],” a bit too literally.
During a House-Senate conference meeting to resolve differences in competing veterans reform legislation this week, Sanders suggested that “emergency funding” would act as a “pay for” for potentially $50 billion in new annual spending on veterans’ health care.
The problem is there is no emergency fund. When Congress chooses to use the “emergency funding” provisions to authorize new spending, it means Congress is exploiting a loophole to avoid being bound by current spending limits. As Congress already plans to run about a half-trillion-dollar deficit this year, any emergency funding lawmakers authorize would pile on top of the $17.5 trillion—and growing—debt.
To say that emergency funding will pay for Congress’ proposal actually means taxpayers will pay for it later with interest.
It’s like a family that uses a credit card to pay for a summer vacation trying to argue that the credit card paid for it. The family still has to pay back the credit card company.
As things now stand, 28 lawmakers from the House and Senate are conferring on their chambers’ respective veterans’ health care bills which would allow more veterans to seek healthcare outside the of the Veteran’s Affairs system if their waiting times exceeded a certain number of days.
The House bill seeks to pay for expanded health care access for veterans within the current spending limit, but the Senate would exploit the emergency funding loophole to authorize the new spending without regard for existing spending limits or the deficit.
CQ News reports:
“Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who chairs the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is sticking to his proposal to pay for legislation with emergency funds, which require no offset. ‘The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly for a pay-for, and that is emergency funding,’ he said.”
Money does not grow on trees, not even in Vermont.