Budget Process and Rules
As we mentioned in our press release earlier this week, the House Budget Committee has been working on legislation to reform the current budget process. Three legislative proposals were advanced by the Committee on Tuesday, in addition to another on the budget resolution that will be brought up soon.
Today, CRFB president Maya MacGuineas testified to the House Rules subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process on HR 114, a biennial budgeting proposal, which would have the budget and appropriations determined on two-year cycles instead of annually. HR 114, the Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act, is not part of the package of process reform bills that the House is marking up this week.
Stating the Obvious – President Obama delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The SOTU is the annual rite where presidents attempt to hit the “reset” button and lay out their agenda for the coming year.
Today, Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the two leading members of the House Budget Committee, introduced a bill to give the President expedited rescission authority, a cousin of the line-item veto. The Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act would allow the President to submit discretionary spending items to Congress to cancel after spending bills have been passed. If brought to the floor, these cancellations would get an up-or-down vote in Congress.
We talked yesterday about the importance of keeping the trigger, or the automatic sequester of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, in place in order to help bring both sides of the aisle back to the negotiating table to enact smart and forward-looking reforms to the budget.
The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction included a detailed legislative proposal intended to enforce a declining path for the federal debt, beginning in 2013. This “debt trigger” mechanism is similar to a proposal that the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform has developed over the last two years.
Budget process reform is back in vogue. Coming on the heels of yesterday’s hearings about budget process in both the House and Senate, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have introduced a bill that would reform pieces of the budget process to avoid certain gimmicks and make other improvements. Their "Honest Budget Act" would,
Congress is getting serious about considering reforms to the dysfunctional budget process.