On June 25th, 2018, the Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group partnered with the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution to discuss how to build a better budget process. The discussion was led by R Street’s Kevin Kosar, while Carlos Fuentes (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Pete Sepp (National Taxpayers Union), and Lindsay Torrico (United Way) served as panelists.

And in a July 18 piece in Real Clear Politics, Kevin Kosar argues that we might actually get budget reform this year. Writing about the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, Kosar notes:

What is especially interesting about this committee’s hearings is that they have not devolved into partisan spectacles. Rather, they have been thoughtful examinations of the nature of the problem. Partly this is because the members serving on the joint select committee are serious about budget reform (e.g., Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-WA). But it is also partly because its co-chairs (Rep. Steve Womack, R-AR, and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY) have set a serious tone and diligent work agenda. The committee has held five public hearings already — including the aforementioned one where former Chairmen Panetta and Obey testified — along with many informal consultations with budget experts.

The hearings also have revealed a surprising level of agreement on possible paths forward. Members on both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in changing the calendar for budgeting, mending the balkanized committee jurisdiction, and eliminating the current debt-ceiling policy. Multiple members have also expressed interest in biennial budgeting and in establishing strong incentives for legislators to budget in a timely manner, including consequences for the failure to do so. 

Also, be sure to check out LegBranch’s latest news and coverage of the Joint Select Committee. The committee held its most recent public meeting on July 12, where members considered the current challenges facing the appropriations process in Congress and discussed possibilities for improvement.

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Topics: Budget & Appropriations