November 15, 2018

Bipartisan Budget Option Added to Budget Overhaul Proposal

Whitehouse-Perdue-Blunt amendment would encourage working across the aisle to end brinksmanship and craft sustainable long-term budgets

Washington, DC – The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform voted in favor Thursday of an amendment to the Select Committee’s budget overhaul proposal offered by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), David Perdue (R-GA), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would encourage bipartisan budgets.  After decades of dysfunction, including escalating funding brinksmanship in recent years, the Senators’ proposal would encourage working across the aisle and create a bipartisan path to sustainable debt levels.

Right now, budget resolutions often turn into blunt instruments to help the majority ram through partisan agendas or score cheap political points.  The resulting gridlock, showdowns, and shutdowns don’t help solve our debt and deficit problem,” said Whitehouse.  “Our amendment offers another option – one that lets Republicans and Democrats work across the aisle to tackle these big issues.  I am grateful for the support of my colleagues on the committee and believe this amendment will help restore meaning to the congressional budget process.”

Throughout the Select Committee’s hearings on overhauling the budget process, members of both parties have remarked on how the current budget process regularly becomes overly partisan.  The political posturing has contributed to numerous funding delays and threats of government shutdowns, and political disagreement on whether the debt limit has imposed unnecessary costs on our nation’s economy.

The Senators’ amendment would open a lane for bipartisan work on the Senate Budget Committee.  In addition to the other requirements of the Congressional Budget Act, the bipartisan budget resolution established by the Senators’ amendment would include a target for the ratio of the public debt to the gross domestic product, and a multi-year glideslope to phase in measures to achieve that ratio.  The glideslope would require accounting for the four primary drivers of deficits:  health care spending, tax expenditures, discretionary appropriations, and revenue levels.  The glideslope could also include other economic and policy targets such as employment, income equality, and economic growth.  

To pass, a bipartisan budget would require Senate Budget Committee approval with a majority of Democratic members and a majority of Republican ones.  The Senate majority and minority leaders would be empowered to agree on expedited floor consideration, including limited debate and amendment votes.  Once a bipartisan budget passes, the Congressional Budget Office would report regularly on whether the budget is on the prescribed pathway.

For a PDF copy of the Senators’ amendment, click here

The Select Committee was established by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which was signed into law in February.  A bipartisan and bicameral panel tasked with considering and recommending reforms to the current budgeting and appropriations processes in Congress, the Select Committee is comprised of 16 members, equally divided between the House and Senate.

For more information on the Select Committee and its work, click here.


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