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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Vote Notes: H.R. 1222 & H.R. 2422, Congenital Heart Disease Research and Dental Health Program Grants

Mar 3, 2018
Blog Post

They say a couple times in a row creates a pattern. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pattern unfolding wherein the more heart-wrenching the cause, the greater the odds that they won’t bother to pay for it.

This was the case earlier this week, as the House voted on two bills that would extend grant funding for dental and health research programs. The bills were H.R. 1222, which totaled $131 million to fund grants for researching congenital heart disease, and H.R. 2422, which provides $133 million for dental health programs. H.R. 1222 passed 394 to 7, and H.R. 2422 passed 387 to 13.

On their own merits, these were good bills that dealt with important areas of research with regard to both heart and dental disease. The problem - and this is particularly acute in the wake of the tax bill - is that we actually have to make choices now with regard to spending. I voted for the tax bill because I believe in limited government...both in what it takes and what it spends. The tax bill in essence held the revenue stream to government constant at about what it’s been for the last 50 years...about 18% of GDP.

Our problem all along has been spending. Current projections point to spending going up to about 23.5% of GDP, and it doesn’t take a mathematician to say that if you take in 18 and spend more than 23, you’ve got a problem. This is particularly the case when each one-tenth of 1% decrease in growth in the economy increases the deficit by about $300 billion over a ten-year period.

So, I voted to limit the money that goes into government. But if we’re going to be consistent, we also have to vote to limit the amount that we spend.

This isn’t happening. It didn’t happen with the budget deal that included another $300 billion in additional spending, and it’s not happening with small bills like these. Bills like these are small enough so that we can find offsets and trim another area of government to pay for this area of government. But if we simply authorize new spending without even the attempt at offset, we’ve pretty much drawn our roadmap of what comes next.

So, to be clear, I think that these programs have merit.

Congenital heart disease is devastating for many. Nearly 1 in 100 babies is born with this condition, and tragically, 5% will die in their first year.

It’s for this reason that the DoD has a very similar grant program. In 2017, it was their 3rd highest-funded category at more than $19 million, which is well above the additional $4 million per year that would have come in as a result of H.R. 2422.

The same kinds of points could be made with regard to dental health, but I think I’ve made my point clear not in the merits of the bill, but in the demerits of not paying for it. It’s for this reason that I voted no on both bills.