Murray's Work

When Senator Murray first came to the Senate in 1993, the United States was facing an annual budget deficit of nearly $300 billion with no end in sight. Seven years later, at the end of fiscal year 2000, the government’s books were balanced, with a budget surplus of $121 billion. Unlike previous years, the federal government did not have to borrow to meet its financial obligations. In 1999, the federal government was making payments to eliminate the debt. Reducing deficit spending required tough decisions, tough votes, and bipartisan and bicameral cooperation. The federal government was on course to completely pay down the $5.6 trillion debt by 2012.

Unfortunately, the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the massive costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the impact of the economic recession added to the strain on federal spending. Between 2000 and 2011, the national debt increased from approximately $5.6 trillion to over $15 trillion today. For this reason, debt reduction continues to be one of Senator Murray’s top priorities in the U.S. Senate.

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (JSC) was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). On August 2, 2011, President Obama signed the BCA into law following its bipartisan passage through Congress. This Act contained almost $1 trillion in deficit reduction through reductions in discretionary spending and also created the JSC, tasked with identifying further deficit reduction of pproximately $1.5 trillion.

Shortly after its passage, Majority Leader Reid asked Senator Murray to co-chair the JSC. She accepted the job of co-chairing the Committee because it was past time for members of both parties to work together to improve our nation’s financial future. As co-chair of the Committee, Senator Murray reached across party lines and worked hard to reach a balanced, bipartisan agreement to reduce our deficit.

Throughout the JSC process, Senator Murray’s priorities were clear. She wanted any proposal coming out of the Committee to be balanced and fair to the middle class and to help the government deliver the kind of results that Americans expect and deserve from their democracy. She also knew that any deal had include both spending cuts and new revenue, and that the need to tackle our deficit and debt should not cause us to cut off critical investments in families and the future.

Unfortunately, despite Democratic offers of a “grand bargain” that included revenue, further discretionary cuts, and changes to entitlement programs, the Committee was unable to reach a balanced and bipartisan agreement due to disagreement over the level and type of revenue to include in the package. Therefore, under the terms of the BCA, $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction will be achieved through automatic, across-the-board cuts that will come from both defense and non-defense spending, also known as sequestration.

Senator Murray continues to work toward a balanced plan to reduce our nation’s deficit. The impacts of sequestration could be far reaching: millions of jobs could be lost through automatic cuts, and programs families depend on would be slashed irresponsibly across the board. Neither the defense nor non-defense automatic cuts are good policy, and both were included in the BCA to incentivize both sides to reach an agreement. In order to avoid sequestration, Senator Murray remains willing to work with colleagues from any party to address our federal debt, and she is working to find a balanced solution that asks those who can afford it most to pay a fair share, ensures middle class families are not asked to bear the burden of deficit reduction alone, and protects critical investments to ensure future generations have the tools they need to compete.