Latest News from the Joint Committee
- Next step:
- Closed meetings of the committee to work on process changes due 11/30/18.
- July 12, 2018 Hearing:
- Co-Chair Lowey’s Opening Remarks
- Co-Chair Womack’s Opening Remarks
- Joint Select Committee Release
- Testimony from Former Appropriations Chair David Obey and Former Budget Chairman, OMB Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
- Obey: “The problem the country’s facing is not process, it’s political. And everything else is just avoidance.”
- Panetta on the importance of working across the aisle: “You guys are engaged in trench warfare up here…. You’re in the trenches and you’re fighting this war and you’re throwing grenades at one another. And every once in a while, you come out of there. And you’re worried about someone shooting you in the back if you try to negotiate something.”
- June 27, 2018 Hearing:
- Wed. 6/27 9am: Speaker Ryan and Dem Whip Hoyer to testify before Joint Select Comm on Budget and Approps | HVC-210
- May 24, 2018 Hearing:
- May 9, 2018 Hearing:
- G. William Hoagland
Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center
U.S. Senate staff, 1982-2007 | Testimony
- Donald R. Wolfensberger
Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center
Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Staff Director, House Rules Committee, 1991-1997 Testimony Supplemental Statement
- G. William Hoagland
- April 17, 2018: Joint Committee holds first hearing.
- Notable comment from co-chair Nita Lowey (D-NY): “The root cause of our current situation has much more to do with deep policy disagreements, often over issues that shouldn’t be part of appropriations bills and a lack of political will,” Lowey said. “Procedural reforms alone are insufficient, but perhaps an improved process could facilitate reaching and implementing agreements when there is the will to do so.”
- Democrats Lowey, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Michael Bennet called for changing the way Congress handles the debt ceiling.
- Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the appropriations process has “clear issues with the deadline and structures,” and suggested moving to a biennial process–a proposal certain to be strongly opposed by most Members of the Appropriations Committees. He also raised concerns about the practice of voting on spending bills in the full Appropriations Committee before amendments are offered and voted on.
- Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo) said he wanted to avoid final spending bills determined as part of an omnibus process that puts “four members of Congress” and about “a dozen staffers” in a position to make “way too many decisions in way too closed an environment.”
- Testimony from Martha Coven, a Associate Director in the Obama OMB, proposed three key changes, including moving from a fiscal year to a calendar year schedule, ending debt ceiling brinkmanship, and reserving the budget reconciliation process for “fiscally responsible legislation” that doesn’t cut taxes or increase spending.
- Testimony from former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, suggested biennial budgeting, raising the debt limit automatically in the House when Congress adopts its budget resolution, and moving the budget resolution from a concurrent resolution to a joint resolution that must be signed into law.
- Opening remarks from Chairman Womack.
- You Tube video of hearing.
- March 8, 2018: first meeting held, with some discussion reportedly being given to shifting the start of the fiscal year from October 1 to January 1.
- Background: The fiscal year used to begin July 1, due to Congress’ long summer recesses to avoid sweltering DC heat prior to air conditioning. The 1974 Budget Act provided more time, shifting the start of the fiscal year to October 1. It is not unlikely that Congress will now move the fiscal year to January 1, given the plethora of continuing resolutions (CRs).
About the Joint Committee
- Joint Committee website
- As called for in the Bipartisan Budget Act. Congress has launched a new “Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform.”
- Congressional leaders have appointed 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats from each chamber:
- House Republicans: Budget Chair Womack (R-AR); Rules Chair Sessions (R-TX); Woodall (R-GE); and Arrington (R-TX).
- House Democrats: Appropriations Ranking Lowey (D-NY); Budget Ranking Yarmuth (D-KY); Roybal-Allard (D-CA); and Kilmer (D-WA).
- Senate Republilcans: Vice Chair of Rep. Conf. Blunt (R-Mo.); Perdue (R-Ga.); Lankford (R-Okla.); and Ernst (R-Iowa).
- Senate Democrats: Whitehouse (D-RI); Bennet (D-CO); Brian Schatz (D-HA); and Hirono (D-HA).
- The bipartisan committee is co-chaired by Steve Womack (R-AR) and Nita Lowey (D-NY).
Guide to Budget Process Reform
- LINK: How the Budget Process Works: in a Nutshell
- LINK: Budget Concepts Overview
Key Budget Process Components:
- Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
- Link to Major Laws Governing the Budget Process
- CRS: Overview of Funding Mechanisms in the Federal Budget Process (including mandatory spending) Aug 2016
- The Budget Control Act of 2011
- Discretionary Spending Limits
- Sequestration: Explanation and Resources
- Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
- Budget Reconciliation
- Budget Functions
- Reserve Funds
- Budget Execution: Apportionment
- Presidential Impoundment
- The Congressional Appropriations Process
- Rules Governing Tax Legislation
Links to Key Budget Process Reform Proposals:
- Automatic Continuing Resolutions
- Biennial Budgeting
- Debt Limit Reform
- Earmarks: Restoring Congress’ Authority to Earmark Appropriations
- Federal Fiscal Year: Move the Start of the Fiscal Year to January 1st
- Joint Budget Resolution (see discussion of the Legally Binding Budget Act of 2011)
- Line-Item Veto and Expedited Rescission; see also detailed discussion in chapter 2-8 of America’s Priorities.
- PAYGO: Explore ways to enforce pay-as-you-go principles
- Reconciliation: place limits on use of fast-track procedures that increase deficits
Other Resources on Budget Process Reform
- Konigsberg: America’s Priorities: See Chapter 2-8
- CRFB: Budget Process Reform Options (2016)
- BPC: Proposal for Improving the Congressional Budget Process (2015) (Rivlin/Domenici/Hoagland)
- Brookings: Reforming the Budget: How to fix the Congressional Budget Process (2014)
- Heritage: An Analysis of Selected Budget Process Reforms (2014)
- AEI: Reforming the Budget Process (2014)
- CRS: Budget Process Reform Proposals in 2012
- Urban: The Budget Process (Testimony by Rudy Penner, 2011)
- CRS: Budget Process Reform Proposals in the 111th Congress (2010)
- CRS: Budget Process Reform Proposals in the 107th Congress (2002)
- Washington Post editorial: July 18, 1984: “The Problem Is the Problem”