October 31, 2019

Senators Whitehouse and Enzi Offer Bipartisan Reforms to Fix Broken Budget Process

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Budget Committee member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) today introduced bipartisan legislation to fix the federal government’s broken budget process. The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act would provide a more orderly, deliberative budget process focused on long-term fiscal planning. It would end the brinksmanship surrounding the debt limit and encourage bipartisan collaboration in tackling our growing debt and deficits. Cosponsoring the bill are Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Angus King (I-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), David Perdue (R-GA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Mike Braun (R-IN).

 “There was strong bipartisan, bicameral work in the Select Committee for a budget process that looks at the four key elements of the federal budget – appropriations, health care costs, tax spending, and revenues – and sets a glide slope over some period of years to a sustainable debt-to-GDP ratio,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Chairman Enzi has shown great leadership in structuring those principles into a Budget Committee reform.”

“These reforms will promote sound decision-making and remove roadblocks that currently obstruct responsible budgeting,” said Chairman Enzi.  “They are focused on creating a robust system to manage our country’s finances, while also improving fiscal transparency and boosting oversight and accountability in the congressional budget process. This bill won’t fix all our fiscal challenges, but it will provide information that will make obvious the important next steps in restoring our broken budget process.”

The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act would:

  • Move the budget resolution to a two-year cycle, while maintaining annual appropriations.
  • Require more involvement from Senate spending and taxing committees, including by requiring detailed spending and revenue plans to better inform budget development.
  • Focus on fiscal sustainability by requiring the budget resolution to establish a debt-to-GDP target backed by a deficit-reducing special reconciliation process to promote adherence to the budget plan.
  • Create a mechanism within the regular budget process to end the brinksmanship surrounding the statutory debt limit by conforming the limit to levels called for in the budget resolution. 
  • Establish an optional new bipartisan budget pathway through which the budget would set a glideslope of deficit reduction that includes health care, revenue levels, and appropriations, and tax expenditures. Such bipartisan budgets would require the support of at least 60 Senators, including at least 15 members of the minority party, and would be considered in the Senate under expedited procedures jointly agreed to by the Majority and Minority Leaders.
  • Provide a more orderly, deliberative process for Senate consideration of budget resolutions that preserves the ability of Senators on both sides of the aisle to offer amendments.
  • Enhance fiscal transparency by requiring that up-to-date tabulations of congressional budget action be publicly posted and that information on the interest effects of authorizing and revenue legislation be included in cost estimates prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The legislation also supports transparency efforts underway at CBO.
  • Require CBO and the Government Accountability Office to regularly review and report to Congress on portfolios of federal spending to help lawmakers make more informed budgetary decisions.

 

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