September 19, 2019

Select Committee Holds Hearing to Examine Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

Today the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (“Select Committee”) held a hearing to examine budget and appropriations process reform in Congress. Last year, the Joint Select Committee (“Joint Select Committee”) on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform was tasked with producing bipartisan recommendations to significantly reform the current funding process in Congress. The Joint Select Committee produced a bicameral, bipartisan package of reforms, but were unable to pass these reforms with the majority needed to advance. Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and former Co-Chair of the Joint Select Committee Nita Lowey and Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and former Co-Chair of the Joint Select Committee Steve Womack testified today to share lessons learned, background on the recommendations they produced and where continued opportunities for reform exist.

“To build on these successes in charting a more effective and responsible course for the American people, there are two key legislative changes that I proposed making when I led the Joint Select Committee that would help improve the budget and appropriations process,” said Chair Lowey. “Moving from an annual to a biennial budget resolution, requiring a resolution in the first year of each Congress and providing appropriations allocations for both the first and second years of the biennium, and providing a mechanism to facilitate action on appropriations even if a budget resolution is not adopted, ideally by allowing for a concurrent resolution dealing with 302(a) allocations only.”

“We should continue to focus on budget process, not budget outcomes. Outcomes are specific levels of funding, or proposals to reduce the deficit by a certain amount. Process is how Congress determines how much to spend, or how to determine what policies to enact to reduce the deficit. I would like to see us modernize our procedures, which will hopefully set up Congress for success, regardless of who is in the majority at any given time,” said Ranking Member Womack.

“The American people deserve a fully-functioning government, and funding the government is one of our most important jobs. The American people haven’t seen a functioning budget and appropriations process in Congress in more than 20 years. We can do better. This Select Committee is committed to finding solutions to the problems we continue to face as a legislative body, and we are grateful to our colleagues for sharing their expertise, ideas and wisdom today,” said Chair Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Vice Chair Tom Graves (R-GA).  

The second panel of expert witnesses testified about the current state of the budget and appropriations process, where the breakdown in process tends to occur, and ways to continue the work of the Joint Select Committee.  M. Matthew Owens, Participant, Convergence Building a Better Budget Process Project, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Federal Relations, Association of American Universities (AAU), G. William Hoagland, Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center, and Megan Lynch, Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process, Congressional Research Service testified on the second panel.

You can watch today’s hearing here.