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Rep. Peters’ Fiscal Commission Act Considered at House Budget Committee Hearing

Washington D.C. – Today, Representative Scott Peters (CA-50), co-chair of the Bipartisan Fiscal Forum, testified to the House Budget Committee on his bipartisan Fiscal Commission Act, which seeks to tackle our nation’s unsustainable debt and preserve Social Security, Medicare, and investments in our children’s futures. Rep. Peters’ opening statement as prepared for delivery is below.  


“Despite a healthy economy, our country’s deficit is growing. We are borrowing nearly $2 trillion a year just to pay our expenses, and as a result, this year we’re spending $663 billion on interest alone – more than we spend on Medicaid or our children, and soon to be more than what we spend on Defense.


These interest payments crowd out investments, like an expanded child tax credit, crowd out investments, like making college affordable and expanding apprenticeships, crowd out our ability to ensure the clean energy transition leaves no one behind. Democrats should be very worried about what the ballooning debt and interest payments will mean for current and future investments in our kids.


I’ve heard many of my Democratic colleagues argue emphatically that we should get our debt under control through regular order and with the tools we already have. Of course, they are right, but we all know that just won’t happen.


There is no cop on the beat to save us from ourselves. It’s much easier to get 218 and 60 to spend more and to keep tax cuts in place than to discipline ourselves. This is a problem of historic proportions, and it did not appear overnight. Congress’s failure to manage the national debt is not the sole responsibility of one party or one administration.


Over the last 20 years, our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush’s tax cuts, President Obama’s extension of the Bush tax cuts, the Trump tax cuts, and vital COVID relief programs, on top of our trillions in annual borrowing have added more than $10 trillion to the national debt. When the Trump tax cuts expire in a couple of years, we will have every incentive to extend them. A commission with outside experts can ensure we are driven by data and help us break that cycle.


Finally, I take Republicans at their word when they say they want to cut Social Security and Medicare. And under current law, Republicans are in the driver’s seat. Current law says, in 10 years when the trust fund is insolvent, there will be automatic cuts to close the gap – an overnight 23% benefit cut for the average recipient. I worry that come 2033, Republicans will say, “Okay, let’s compromise and call it a 15% benefit cut instead.” And with a pending 23% cut, they will have all the leverage in the room.


The best thing we can do to protect Social Security and Medicare is to act now. A commission gives us a fact-driven venue, instead of some backdoor, eleventh-hour deal between party leaders, to do just that.


I introduced the bipartisan Fiscal Commission Act with my friend, Bill Huizenga, in September with 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. I welcome each of your thoughts, input, and recommendations to ensure we can make this process better.


A commission is a good start, and I sincerely look forward to working with each of you. Thank you.”



The Fiscal Commission Act of 2023 is supported by Representatives Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Tom Cole (R-OK), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Ed Case (D-HI), William Timmons (R-SC), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Ami Bera (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Blake Moore (R-UT), Jared Golden (D-ME), Cory Mills (R-FL), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Hillary Scholten (D-MI), and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA). 


Senators Joe Manchin and Mitt Romney introduced companion legislation in the Senate, the Fiscal Stability Act.


Full text of the legislation can be found here.




Makeup16 members. Each of the four corners congressional leaders selects four members, of which three are colleagues from the respective chamber, and one individual from the private sector. The final makeup would be six House members (3 R, 3 D), six Senators (3 R, 3 D), and four outside experts.


Fiscal Commission Vote: The Commission’s recommendations require a simple majority vote, PROVIDED that the majority is made up of at least three members of each party.



  1. The Fiscal Commission shall identify policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and achieve a sustainable debt-to-GDP ratio over the long term, and improve solvency for a period of at least 75 years for federal programs for which a federal trust fund exists. In carrying out these duties, the Commission shall:
    1. Propose recommendations to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at or below 100% within 10 years.
    2. Propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-term fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of direct spending and the gap between revenues and expenditures.


Expedited Procedures:

  1. Requires each chamber to vote on the recommendations, without amendment.
  1. Provides that the motion to proceed in the Senate is subject to a 51-vote threshold, though final passage is subject to standard Rule 22 60-vote threshold.



  1. The Commission shall be established and members appointed within 60 days of enactment.
  2. The Commission shall vote on recommendations on November 8, 2024 (the Friday after the 2024 election).
  3. Roughly eight legislative days for the first chamber to consider.
  4. Five legislative days for the Senate to begin consideration.
  5. Final congressional vote during the 2024 lame duck.




The Bipartisan Fiscal Forum (BFF) is a group of like-minded congressmembers dedicated to sounding the alarm about our nation’s unsustainable debt trajectory and working together to get control of our fiscal future. The group’s mission is to elevate the debt Issue with their colleagues and the public while providing members of Congress with opportunities to improve the fiscal policy debate in Congress. The group began informally in 2020 and since then has engaged in bipartisan collaboration to put forward ideas that address our growing debt and exploding interest costs. In total more than 50 current members of Congress have participated in BFF activities.