ELK GROVE, Calif. — House Democrats have given up on governing, according to Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).
In a speech Friday, Lungren pointed to the Democratic leaders’ decision to not pass a budget this year as the main example of the dearth of leadership in Washington, D.C. He was addressing more than 50 area business leaders at the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce’s August meeting.
“Why would they not want to adopt a budget when we’re in the difficulty we are in today?” Lungren asked. “You have to admit where we are, how we got there, and you have to admit that we’re ignoring the consequences of what we’ve done.”
“We have an enormous problem in Washington, D.C.,” he said, to which a man in the crowd shouted, “Thank you.”
For Lungren, who is facing a competitive re-election battle against Democrat Ami Bera, the speech was part of an effort to blame Washington and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the state of the economy.
While Lungren has the advantage of incumbency, Bera has raised more money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Lungren had raised $1.2 million at the end of June, with $802,000 in cash on hand. Of the amount raised, $609,000 came from political action committees.
Bera raised $1.6 million by the end of June, with $237,000 coming from PACs. Bera had $1.1 million in cash on hand.
To achieve a balanced budget, Lungren said he would support cutting spending and would promote a zero-based budget, instead of using the previous year’s budget to set the baseline.
While Lungren conceded that cutting spending would be difficult — so much so that the federal government might have to go to a two-year budget cycle — he said that as a first step he would require each agency to prioritize spending items in more detail.
“You can argue about what’s essential, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t even get to that level at the present time,” Lungren said of the lack of a budget this year.
To achieve his goal, Lungren advocates changing the Congressional schedule. He says Congress needs to adopt a five-day workweek for three weeks of every month to allow for more aggressive spending oversight. One week of every month would be dedicated to work in Members’ districts.
“I can tell you it doesn’t allow us to do the work we ought to be doing in Washington, D.C.,” Lungren said of the current schedule. He is in his third term and represented Long Beach in the House from 1979 to 1989.