Why I can’t vote for a $1.7 trillion spending spree | Column
Florida Sen. Rick Scott explains why he likes parts of the omnibus spending bill but can’t support many other parts.
Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol, Monday.
Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol, Monday. [ MATT ROURKE | AP ]
Published Dec. 20, 2022

In typical Washington fashion, Florida families fighting hard to recover from Hurricane Ian are being held hostage in exchange for approval of the massive and reckless $1.7 trillion spending bill.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]

Immediately after the storm passed, I made clear that I would fight for and support a standalone disaster aid funding package to get Floridians the assistance they deserve and need to recover. To tell folks in the Sunshine State who are still picking up the pieces left by Hurricane Ian that this aid only comes as part of a 4,000+ page omnibus spending bill is sickening. I won’t stand for it.

I’ve made no secret of my disgust for Washington’s reckless spending habits. Last week, I again spoke on the Senate floor about this issue and asked my colleagues a simple question: “When are we going to say enough?”

America’s national debt is $31 trillion and growing. When are we going to be so fed up that we decide this isn’t sustainable? When we get to $35, $40 or $45 trillion in debt? Too many Democrats and Republicans in Washington are happy to close their eyes, plug their ears and pass another reckless, multi-trillion dollar spending bill we can’t afford.

Let’s be clear: These spending bills aren’t just our essential duties. They become huge policy and spending casseroles feeding Washington’s favorite type of compromise where everyone gets everything they want. The result is more debt, more inflation and less accountability in how Congress spends your tax dollars. It should make every American furious.

If this spending bill helped balance the budget and only contained the things that the federal government should be responsible for, I’d vote for it without hesitation. When I ran for the Senate, I promised Florida families to make Washington work for them. That doesn’t mean zero federal spending. It means responsible spending by a Congress that is accountable to the taxpayers who fund it. That’s how we governed when I was governor of Florida and the result was better returns for our state’s families. Because we governed responsibly, the economy grew. A growing economy meant we could cut taxes and pay off state debt, while also making record investments in education, environment and public safety. Washington can work this way too, but not while failed politicians refuse to be accountable with your money.

The truth is, at more than 4,000 pages, the spending bill has a lot of policies and funding priorities I fought for this year. It has more funding to preserve and protect Florida’s Everglades, funding to support our military and, yes, disaster aid for the families and communities devastated by Hurricane Ian. I support all of these things, but I will never support the other parts of the bill that continue gross, reckless spending of taxpayer dollars. These are things like $2.3 million so the Department of Education can reach out to student loan borrowers and urge them to apply for Biden’s illegal debt forgiveness program, more than 7,500 member projects, funding for Biden to continue supersizing the Internal Revenue Service with 87,000 new agents and continuation of policies that force every family to give the IRS visibility into their personal finances.

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I ran for Senate Republican Leader because I am sick and tired of seeing dysfunction in Washington create hard times for families in the Sunshine State. I won’t cave to more spending, more inflation and more suffering in Florida and all across real America so failed politicians in Washington can pat themselves on the back again after wasting even more of your money.

Democrats want to hold us hostage by saying that we can have hurricane relief in exchange for billions in reckless spending and hundreds of pages of radical policy. I say no. Caving to the Washington establishment on this would be a betrayal of my promise to you that I’d always fight against Washington’s corrupt dysfunction and wild spending. With inflation up nearly 14% since Biden took office, labor participation lagging, federal debt skyrocketing and a recession on the horizon, there has never been a more important time to stand up and demand fiscal sanity in Congress. I promised you that I’d do that and I won’t go back on my word.

Rick Scott, a Republican, represents Florida in the United States Senate. He is the former governor of Florida.