U.S. Congressman Dan Webster | 11th District of Florida

Frequently Asked Questions about the Prioritize Spending Act

How does the federal government prioritize spending?
Each month, the federal government receives a certain amount of tax revenue into the Treasury. This amount of money varies from month to month; however, it is not enough to cover all the obligations of the federal government. If the debt ceiling is reached, the Treasury still takes in tax revenue. By laying out which federal programs should receive the expenditures of this tax revenue, Congress is able to direct the spending to priorities deemed critical under HR 149.

How much tax revenue does the federal government take in per month?
Each month tax revenues to the Treasury vary. In Fiscal Year 2012, the revenues averaged $204 billion per month.

Is this the same as a balanced budget amendment?
No. This bill is intended to be a short term measure to require the Treasury to pay the specified accounts until a debt reduction plan can be initiated. The effect would be similar in that the Treasury would only be able to spend the amount of tax revenues that are received. A balanced budget amendment would be a permanent requirement that the Treasury only spend the amount of tax revenues received each year.

Why did you choose public debt, military pay, Social Security and Medicare?

The purpose in prioritizing public debt repayment is to keep the United States from entering a period of default on its existing loans. In addition to prohibiting a default, there are several primary obligations that are paramount: our national defense and America’s seniors. This bill provides for the uninterrupted pay for our service men and women, along with other vital national security personnel, and for Social Security payments and Medicare benefits to our seniors. It is irresponsible to allow a situation to develop where our military and seniors, two groups of citizens that rely on Washington to fulfill its promises, may be forced to go without the programs that provide for their basic needs.

How much money is left over after funding the prioritized items?

There is a significant sum of money left over each month after the disbursements to the accounts prioritized in this bill. The average amount of revenue for FY2012 that would be in excess of the amount spent on the prioritized accounts is $45 billion each month.

What happens to the other areas of government spending?

Currently, the burden of prioritization would fall to the executive branch. If this bill were to become law, the executive branch would still retain the ability to prioritize federal spending for all other accounts other than the accounts prioritized in this bill. The accounts prioritized in this bill would receive primary funding.

Why do you feel this is necessary?
While I am hopeful a debt limit agreement that cuts spending, places our economy on the path to recovery and does not increase job killing taxes will be in place before the debt ceiling is reached, it is important to remove the uncertainty of what might take place if no plan is implemented. Our creditors, military and seniors need to have confidence that the United States government will use available revenues to meet its obligations.

Does this mean that you intend on voting “NO” to a debt ceiling increase?

This bill is in no way linked to my vote on a potential deficit reduction/debt ceiling vote. This bill simply guarantees that regardless of outcome, our brave servicemen and women and our seniors, will be taken care of.

Letters of support for the Prioritize Spending Act, which was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as H.R. 149:

Letter of Support from National Taxpayers Union
Letter of Support from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Letter of Support from The 60 Plus Association
Letter of Support from Independent Women's Voice

Read the bill text of the Prioritize Spending Act of 2013