House budget chief calls out Grover Norquist for ‘bulls‑‑‑’ criticism

House Budget Committee Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) did not mince words Wednesday when discussing previous criticism from anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist.

Arrington was discussing an ongoing push in Congress to establish a fiscal commission at a Wednesday event hosted by The Hill and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“We need people that are willing to do the right thing, even if it’s not politically popular,” Arrington said at the event, which marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.

“We passed a bipartisan fiscal commission for example, and now I’ve got Grover Norquist and [Americans for Tax Reform] saying that I’m a big tax guy, you know, and I’m stabbing Trump in the back,” he said, referring to Norquist’s anti-tax activism group.

“This is the kind of bullshit that you have to put up with sometimes,” he said.

Arrington apologized shortly after, saying the “Texan came out of me a little bit,” adding: “But, you know what, it lets me know that maybe I’m getting close to doing something that could help the country.”

Norquist pushed back against Arrington’s comments in a statement later on Wednesday, accusing the congressman of suggesting the creation of “yet another commission with the power to promote higher taxes.”

“The answer to overspending in Washington is to spend less,” the statement said. “We need to bring back the ‘anti-appropriations committee’ that helped Congress reduce wasteful spending during / after World War Two. That congressional committee saved billions. It should be reinstated.”

Arrington’s comments come after Norquist took aim at him earlier this year for signaling openness to discussing revenue changes, along with expenditures, to address the nation’s growing fiscal challenges.

“It’s only fair to have both revenue and expenditures on the table,” he said to Semafor in February. “The last time there was a fix to Social Security that addressed the solvency for 75 years, it was Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, and it was bipartisan. It had revenue measures and it had program reforms. That’s just the reality.”

Not long after, Norquist accused Arrington of stabbing “Trump in the back” with his remarks, which he said then “undermines efforts to make the Trump Tax Cuts permanent and greatly pleases the beltway press.”

“It’s now obvious the Romney-Arrington Commission is designed to go around the GOP majority in the House and Ways and Means Committee to raise taxes. Romney says so. Arrington says so,” he wrote in a post on the social platform X, referring to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

The push for a bipartisan fiscal commission has seen some momentum in the current Congress, as lawmakers on both sides have raised concerns about insolvency threats facing programs like Social Security and Medicare, which account for most federal spending.

However, Republicans and Democrats have been far apart in how to approach the nation’s growing debt, as many in the former camp have pushed for funding cuts, particularly on the nondefense side, and others in the latter group continue zeroing in on taxes targeting the rich.

In his comments Wednesday, Arrington said he personally thinks the nation has “a greater spending problem,” while noting Democrats might “think it’s a combination.”

“Let me tell you something. This budget chairman, every time somebody brings up tax cuts [and] tax permanency, I’m bringing up mandatory spending, I’m bringing up entitlement reform, and I’m bringing up the real reason we add reconciliation. Thank you to our founding fathers of this 1974 Budget Act, which was to reduce the deficit,” he said.

“Revenue was on the table and … expenditures. So the only way out of this mess in this country is to have leaders willing to work together and put their country’s interests first.”

This story was updated at 7:30 p.m.

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