Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congress forms new budget process overhaul panel

Congressional leaders finalized the list of new members today for the “Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform," a 16-person panel of lawmakers tasked with improving the annual budget and appropriations process.

Determining the government’s budget for each fiscal year is the primary duty of Congress and since October of last year, that process has been dominated by mismanagement, two government shutdowns, and disagreements over permanent funding. As a result, no long-term budget for 2018 has been agreed upon, with Congress instead opting to adopt continuing resolutions (short-term funding measures) to keep the government open. This panel is tasked with addressing those problems and providing solutions.

Split evenly between the majority and minority parties, the panel will present a report of bipartisan recommendations by November 30, 2018. The panel members are listed below:

Republicans

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AK) – Co-chair
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA)
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Democrats

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) – Co-chair
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

The new members are scheduled to have their first meeting within the next two weeks, and before March 11 as required by the law that established the committee. A bipartisan solution to what many view as an inherently partisan problem will be difficult to produce, but if they can offer substantive changes, this new group has a valuable opportunity to overhaul this complex practice.

Any proposals offered to Congress as a whole first needs to clear the panel by at least nine votes, meaning members of each party would need to support it, and then if enacted into law, it would still need to clear the 60-vote threshold of the Senate. Such a threshold will be difficult to manage, given the nature of partisan politics, but with the right legislation it is certainly possible.

NALC will monitor any updates with the panel and keep its members informed of any recommendations that make their way out of the committee.

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