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Weekly Column: Momentum On Bipartisan Budget Reform

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Federal overspending cedes strength, forgoes the ability to put full resources behind new ideas and essentially resigns our nation to a system of cobbling by, moving from one federal funding deadline to another without a focus on the bigger picture.  The strength of our nation is far too important not only to Americans, but also to world stability to accept this outcome.  I joined a bipartisan group of my fellow Senators in introducing S. 2765, the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act, that would fix the federal government’s broken budget process. 

The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act includes the following reforms:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

The Senate Budget Committee, on which I serve, advanced this legislation by a bipartisan 15-6 vote.  Additional outreach and discussions will continue to build further bipartisan support to pave the way for the full Senate’s consideration of this legislation.

I am not letting up in this effort to improve our nation’s fiscal future, security and stability.  I joined in recommending budget reforms as an original member of the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and have backed efforts to reign in federal spending and put hard protections in place to curb future overspending.  The importance of addressing our unsustainable national debt remains as critical, if not more so, today. 

Americans are rightly concerned with partisan politics inhibiting real legislative work that needs to be done.  The fact that 20 of my Senate colleagues—Republican, Democratic and Independent—are in agreement on these needed reforms should not be lost in the noise.  This bipartisan legislation will reform our broken budget process by outlining a more deliberative, transparent process for managing our nation’s finances.  This is exactly what our nation needs, and I commend Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) and committee member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) for their leadership on this front.  I will keep working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to push this and other necessary policy changes over the finish line.  We cannot afford to do otherwise.

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