WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Sensenbrenner released his weekly column about constituents’ concerns over President Trump’s budget proposal:

At nearly every town hall meeting that I’ve held since President Trump released his budget proposal, constituents have raised concerns over various programs and suggested cuts within the proposal. I’d like to speak to this because ultimately, any presidential proposal is little more than a wish list. Congress holds the power of the purse, and when it comes to discretionary spending, Members of Congress carefully consider everything on the table, review current spending levels, and identify spending priorities before passing a budget. 

Currently, our national debt is nearly $20 trillion, making it critical that any budget passed by Congress include significant cuts in order to decrease spending. This will require difficult but necessary decisions about our national priorities. It will not be an easy process, but it must be done for the health and continued success of our country.

Concerning the budget, it’s important to understand what Congress can and cannot do. Federal spending is divided into three categories: discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and interest on the debt.

Discretionary spending is the portion of the national budget that Congress decides through the appropriations process. Things such as funding for federal agencies, military and defense, and international affairs fall in this category. 

Mandatory spending is not included in the annual appropriations process and supports entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Spending levels are determined on eligibility, and can based on how many Americans apply and are approved for benefits. Since mandatory spending is outside the appropriations process, the only way to change spending levels would be for Congress to change eligibility rules. The majority of our federal budget is mandatory spending.

Interest on the debt is the interest our federal government pays on its accumulated debt. This does not include the interest income received by the government for the assets it owns. Concerning our overall budget, America spends the least of its taxpayer dollars on paying back the national debt.

It’s also important to understand that no president, Republican or Democrat, has ever received everything he requested in his budget proposal. That means that most of what is outlined in President Trump’s budget proposal will not pass through Congress without at least some changes.

As Congress begins the appropriations process, I will remain conscientious not only about our rising national debt, but also the necessity of our government programs and the impacts potential cuts will have on such programs.