The Victory Republicans May Be Squandering

October 4, 2023

The Wall Street Journal
Sen. Rick Scott
October 4, 2023

Democrats in Washington love the leadership fight in the House right now. It’s pushing Congress toward enacting another massive omnibus spending bill and threatening to squander the victory Republicans obtained last week when, for a change, they acted in a manner consistent with how they campaign.

The normal game plan for the establishment Senate leadership has been to keep everyone—especially fiscal conservatives—in the dark and then cave in to the Democrats at the last minute. Not this time. The establishment lost, and the result was great news for taxpayers.

When I ran to be Senate Republican leader against Mitch McConnell, I told colleagues that we needed to craft policies and strategy we could unite behind and work more closely with our colleagues in the House. Now, the American public has seen what can happen when we do that. Fiscally conservative Republicans led the effort to keep the government open, deliver urgently needed disaster aid for Americans, and ensure Ukraine aid was considered separately.

In January, immediately after the speaker’s race concluded, a group of fiscally responsible senators started hosting weekly meetings for House and Senate conservatives to discuss how to change the old way of doing things in Washington. That work was instrumental last week in beating the establishment at its own game by stopping Democrats from jamming through a continuing resolution full of radical spending priorities and more foreign aid. It wasn’t a perfect win, but it could force Congress to consider, debate and pass appropriations bills the way we are supposed to, and to produce an actual budget instead of another massive spending bill.

The battle before us won’t be easy. Senate Republican leadership has allowed massive spending bills to happen every year since I came to the Senate in 2019. While the U.S. population is up 1.8% in that time, the federal budget has grown 55% and debt has exploded from $22 trillion to more than $33 trillion. Prices have also skyrocketed under Joe Biden, up more than 17%. Interest rates are up and the American Dream is getting further out of reach.

Or consider the housing market. Thirty-year mortgage rates are the highest in 23 years and have doubled under Mr. Biden. The cost of buying a $500,000 house has increased by more than 150%, or $570,000, over the duration of the loan.

Many Republican lawmakers get elected by telling the voters how diligent they will be in stopping wasteful spending when they get to Washington. That isn’t easy, and most don’t follow through. The way to induce them to do so is for House and Senate conservatives to work together.

If you are as fed up as I am, make sure to hold your elected leaders accountable and tell them to start passing balanced budgets. Tell them you expect them to do what every American family does and stop spending more than we have so we can stop inflation and high interest rates. Tell them to work with their conservative colleagues in the other chamber and not to support another massive inflation-bomb spending bill.

Mr. Scott, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida.