The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform met for its second public hearing last week. The hearing, entitled Bipartisanship in Budgeting, set out to examine the ways Congress’ hyper-partisan environment impedes the budgeting process.
The hearing, which can be viewed in its entirety here, honed in on two main themes:
1. The need for reform is urgent, and Members are frustrated:
The number of times Congress has funded the government on time in the last four decades can be tallied using one hand. Americans depend on timely, well-debated budgets, and the current partisan environment makes that nearly impossible.
2. More time is needed to find a solution, but Congress should not shy away from drastic changes:
Witnesses, which included experts from the Bipartisan Policy Center and Convergence Building a Better Budget Process Project, proposed fixes including withholding pay and vacation until Congress passes a budget, moving to a biennial budget, and, lastly, restructuring the committee system.
While the Committee ruminates on which proposals to adopt, Members made clear the urgent need for reform:
Last week’s hearing demonstrated a growing movement in Congress to reform itself. Members are tired of working within a broken system that lets the American people down, and are willing to seek input from experts.
Productive conversations like the one last week promise a brighter future for Congress, and show its capacity to reform what is broken. If the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform can find solutions to the broken budget process, surely Congress has the ability to reform itself on a larger scale.
With a Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, true reform that touches every aspect of our dysfunctional system will finally be possible.