Rep. Tom O'Halleran of Arizona's 1st District hosted a Principles and Priorities budget exercise with constituents in Oro Valley, AZ on May 28.
Participants split into groups of seven and had an hour to go through 42 line items that proposed a change to the federal budget. Each change would either add or subtract from the current $896 billion federal budget deficit.
O’Halleran’s event comes at a good time to hear constituent feedback on funding priorities; he said Congress will devote the entire month of June to focus on the budget and its details.
“If you take a look at the wish list in Congress right now, and a lot of the priorities of the American people, you have to blend your way through the cloud of politics,” O’Halleran said. “We have to find a way to get through that cloud to get to reality.”
O’Halleran said that in six years the federal government’s payments toward debt service will be the third-highest expense of the country, just under Social Security and Medicare. From conversations during the event, he found that many realized the budget-making process was not as simple as they anticipated, but despite a diversity of people in the room, participants were eventually able to find agreement on a multitude of issues.