Our national debt (the total amount owed by our federal government to our creditors) has now surpassed $24 trillion, an unprecedented amount both overall and by various other measures such as in relation to our overall economy. As just one consequence of great concern, the annual interest payments on our debt are now the fastest-growing part of our federal budget, more than, for example, education and defense.
I believe that our federal budget should not be an aspirational exercise, but instead a document and agenda that comprehensively addresses our nation’s needs and expenses in a fiscally sustainable way. We have urgent challenges, from climate change to health care and beyond, and we need a full and difficult debate on how best to balance their cost with our ability and commitment to raise and allocate scarce resources.
If we continue on our current fiscally unsustainable path, we will continue to reduce our ability to deal not only with normal course needs but with emergencies such as we now face with COVID-19 or recessions. There are a number of heightening priorities that the U.S. must address, but without a conversation on the debt, payments on the interest will crowd out our other priorities.
I am deeply concerned about our fiscal path, which is why this Congress I introduced the Sustainable Budget Act alongside Representative Steve Womack, the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee. This legislation would create an 18-member bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility that would be tasked with proposing recommendations designed to achieve a balanced annual federal budget within ten years and improve the long-term federal fiscal outlook. I believe that Congress has failed one of its most basic responsibilities, to develop and implement a responsible budget, so that an external entity like this commission must assist us in fulfilling our duty to this and current generations.
In addition to my bill and related legislation I have cosponsored, I am a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. This official caucus in the House of Representatives is comprised of 25 pragmatic Members dedicated to pursuing fiscally-responsible policies and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people. I am also a Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility and Good Government, where I am working to lead our nation to a more fiscally responsible future. By working with like-minded colleagues, I believe we can and must address this critical issue for our nation