How to Fix the Congressional Budget Process

By Bipartisan Policy Center

The following is being released by the Bipartisan Policy  Center:

Calling the current congressional budget process “broken and in need of drastic repair,” Dr. Alice M. Rivlin and former Senator Pete V. Domenici (both pictured above), released recommendations that would create a budget process that allows the government to function with less uncertainty and more efficiency. Their report, Proposal for Improving the Congressional Budget Process, recommends tough reforms to ensure Congressional and White House agreement on all federal spending and revenues, including entitlements; and create a budget that is transparent and completed on  time.

Since the Congressional Budget Act was created four decades ago, Congress has failed nine times to adopt a budget. Moreover, five of those nine times have occurred in the last six years, when the Congress was divided with Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in control of the Senate. Instead, the federal government has lurched from one budget crisis to another with ad hoc procedures and funded through continuing resolutions and massive omnibus appropriation  bills.

“Governing requires budgeting, and budgeting is governing,” said Alice M. Rivlin, former director of the Office of Management and Budget. “The inability of Congress to deliver on its most basic fiscal responsibility calls for a drastic make-over of the  process.”

“It’s time to rethink the objectives of the budget process and redesign ‘regular order’ to deal with the budget situation Congress faces now and in the future,” said former Senator and BPC Senior Fellow Pete V.  Domenici.

Rivlin and Domenici are on opposite sides of the political aisle, but share a strong commitment to an orderly budget process and fiscal responsibility. Their recommendations are based on more than 40 years of leadership roles in the federal budget  process.

Proposal highlights  include:

  • Changing the current annual budgeting cycle to biennial in which Congress would adopt a budget and appropriation bills in the first session, leaving time for oversight and authorization process in the second session;
  • Canceling all planned congressional recesses until a budget agreement is adopted if Congress fails to pass a plan by April 15 of the first session;
  • Adjusting the statutory debt ceiling to be consistent with the numbers in the adopted biennial budget; and
  • Funding government programs and agencies at the previous year’s level if Congress fails to adopt a biennial appropriations bill.

Review the full list of  recommendations

“Our recommendations represent a middle ground that builds on the existing budget process,” said Domenici. “We proposed changes that would have the most impact in dealing with the difficult challenges  ahead.”

The authors acknowledge that reforming the budget process will not by itself eliminate partisan polarization, establish collegiality, or restore civil discourse. But they believe it can  help.

“Difficult political decisions demand more than new budget tools. They require compromise and the political will of lawmakers and the president,” added  Rivlin.

SOURCE Bipartisan Policy  Center

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