Evan H. Jenkins Evan H. Jenkins
Former Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


June 03, 2023


The votes a member of Congress casts can have a significant impact on the well-being of our nation. In the realm of congressional decision-making, however, opportunities to vote on bills of historical significance are rare.

As the nation neared default on its debts, members of Congress found themselves presented with a remarkable chance to make an indelible mark on our nation’s trajectory by supporting the bipartisan agreement forged by President Biden, Speaker McCarthy and their negotiating teams to raise the statutory debt limit, tackle federal spending and set the country on a track for more responsible fiscal policy.

“Together, these steps chart our country on the right course to address our debt and spending while ensuring the stability of the U.S. economy and the full faith and credit of the U.S. dollar,” said Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In the House, 314 members of Congress voted in favor of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, while 63 senators voted yes on the measure, which Biden signed into law on Saturday.

Here are three reasons the votes of those 377 lawmakers – and the Fiscal Responsibility Act itself – are good for America.

1. Default on Our Nation’s Debt Is Avoided

The prospect of a default on our nation’s debt represented an unprecedented threat to our economic stability. Without the deal, our government would have been unable to meet its financial obligations starting June 5, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said. According to the economists at RSM, an accounting firm focused on mid-size U.S. businesses, even a technical default would “double the current unemployment rate of 3.4% to near 7%, and tip the economy into recession within six months…”

The clock ticked alarmingly close to the deadline, with House approval on May 31 and Senate approval coming late the next day. Their act of fiscal prudence averted a potentially catastrophic default and lost job opportunities, ensured the full faith and credit of our nation is maintained, and – critically – set a crucial precedent for responsible governance and bipartisan cooperation. 

2. Wasteful Spending Is Cut

The need for fiscal responsibility has never been more apparent. As stewards of the nation’s finances, members of Congress madedifficult decisions toreduce spending without compromising essential services.

The trajectory of our nation’s debt and deficit is well known and unsustainable. The burden of excessive debt falls on future generations, compromising their economic opportunities and limiting their ability to thrive. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that full enactment of the bill would reduce spending by $2.1 trillion, equivalent to $6,300 for every American.

By supporting this bill, Congress tookan essential step to begin reining in our nation’s debt, promoting economic stability, and safeguarding the financial well-being of our children and grandchildren. 

3. Permitting Process Is Improved

Our nation’s infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth and societal progress. However, a broken permitting process has impeded timely project development and hindered infrastructure advancement. This bill takes an important first step to fixing this broken system.

The measure requires the government to complete environmental reviews within two years. The average today is 4.5 years, with many large projects taking twice as long or longer. Bureaucratic hurdles are removed, project approval timelines are shortened, and federal agencies are held accountable. This bill will create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and ensure that our nation remains competitive on a global scale.  

Bottom Line: The true essence of democracy lies in the ability to find common ground. Critics often stress perfection, but it is essential to recognize the inherent value of achieving what is possible. Congress seized this historic moment to embrace progress and foster collaboration to restore confidence in our nation’s fiscal health and safeguard future generations. 

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    About the authors

    Evan H. Jenkins

    Evan H. Jenkins

    Evan Jenkins is the former Senior Vice President of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.