LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville spoke in Washington, D.C on Wednesday about the coming year in Congress and his role chairing the budget committee.
He and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-SD, spoke at “Hill Watch: 2019 Outlook,” an event for Bloomberg Government.
Yarmuth’s comments came a day after the first budget committee hearing with him as chair, in which the Congressional Budget Office updated members of Congress on the impact of the record-settling shutdown and spending for the next 10 years.
"We've got a number of funding battles we're going to have to wage over the next few months," Yarmth told reporters Wednesday.
The first and most famous of those battles is striking a deal by mid-February to keep the government open, while negotiating with the White House on border funding.
The direct impact of the 35-day shutdown cost $3 billion, Yarmuth said, but that doesn’t include companies that lost government contracts or employees as a result of the stall.
"That put a lot of business expansion, business initiatives on hold and the delay in some of those may end up being a death knell for them," he said, also predicting an "enormous" backlog for the IRS to process tax returns.
The new budget committee chair also expressed concerns over Tuesday’s CBO briefing that showed the deficit ballooned by 40 percent over the past two years, from $580 billion annually, to nearly $1 trillion, with even higher numbers predicted into the next decade.
“Any positive impact that is felt in the economy,” Yarmuth said, “is more than overcome by this huge increase in the deficits and national debt over the next 10 years.”
Democrats might not check a lot of items of their legislative wishlist in the new term, Yarmuth said, but the party can lay out what Washington might look like, if not for a split Congress and a Republican White House.
“We can show through our budget resolution and other policy initiatives how we envision the direction of the country,” he said, “and what the American people might look forward to if they elect a Democratic president in 2020 and a Democratic Senate.”