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Senators Lankford, Perdue, Ernst: Political Self-Interest Prevented Changes to The Broken Budget Process

CLICK HERE to watch Senator Lankford’s Closing Remarks

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK –Senators James Lankford (R-OK), David Perdue (R-GA), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) provided comment on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform:

“The Joint Select Committee was our chance to make meaningful changes to Congress’ broken budget process—instead, it turned out to be a lost opportunity. This is completely irresponsible. Throughout the process we had bipartisan discussions of ideas that could have fixed the way Congress funds the federal government and addressed our debt. Several of these ideas were met with little disagreement in conversation but suddenly received major pushback when it was time to put the ideas into action. We offered amendments to end Washington’s addiction to continuing resolutions and to hold members of Congress accountable for finishing the budget job on time. This should have been common sense, but yet again political self-interest stood in the way of significant results. After eight months of work, there is no excuse for settling for the status quo. We are committed to continuing our efforts next year to responsible fix the federal government’s funding process.”

Lankford, Perdue, and Ernst introduced amendments that would have achieved the following priorities:

  • Milestones With Consequences: Create a series of milestones for passing a budget and appropriations bills to keep Congress on track to fund the government on time. Coupled with changing the fiscal year, these milestones would provide more certainty for our military and other federal agencies. (Offered by Perdue)
  • No Budget, No Recess: If the Senate has not approved a budget and spending bills on time, then the Senate would be unable to adjourn for over eight hours; no funding would be available for official travel; and, two quorum calls would be held per day to prevent senators from leaving Washington. (Offered by Ernst and Lankford)
  • No Budget, No Travel: If the Senate has not passed a budget and appropriations bills on time, then the Senate is prevented from taking any official travel (Offered by Ernst).
  • Change The Fiscal Year Ending From September 30 To December 31: Matching the fiscal year with the calendar year gives Congress more time to pass a budget and all of the appropriations bills. (Offered by Perdue)
  • Change Budget Committee Membership: Changes the membership of the Senate Budget Committee to be six members of the majority, five members of the minority and the chair and ranking members of the Appropriations and Finance committees. (Offered by Lankford and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO))
  • Establish Bipartisan Budget Resolution In Senate: Creates a separate path in the Senate for a bipartisan budget resolution. The resolution would be required to establish fiscal goals for the path of the debt- to-GDP ratio as well as a glide path for health care spending, tax expenditures, discretionary spending, and total revenues. (Offered by Perdue and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI))
  • Make The Budget A Law: Change the budget from a concurrent resolution to a joint resolution, making it require the signature of the President and carry the force of law. (Offered by Perdue)
  • Require 60 Votes: Raise the vote threshold for final passage of a budget resolution in the Senate from 51 votes to 60 votes, which is 3/5 of all Senators. This forces bipartisanship throughout the entire budget process while retaining the privileged nature of the budget resolution and matches the 60-vote requirement of the appropriations process. (Offered by Perdue)
  • End “Vote-a-rama”: End vote-a-rama by requiring all amendments to be debated on and voted on within 50 hours of consideration. This would expedite the passage of a budget by limiting frivolous messaging amendments. (Offered by Perdue)
  • Eliminate Gimmicks: Eliminate budgeting gimmicks by cracking down on the use of Changes In Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs) in the appropriations process that produce billions in hidden overspending. (Offered by Lankford)
  • Change Reconciliation Process: Reconciliation is a powerful tool to get around the Senate filibuster. This amendment makes it a required part of the budget rather an optional part. (Offered by Lankford)

The Joint Select Committee was established by Congress on February 9, 2018, and is composed of 16 Members of Congress: four Senate Republicans—including Lankford, Perdue, and Ernst—four Senate Democrats, four House Republicans, and four House Democrats. The members had until November 30, 2018, to agree to changes on the budget and appropriations process and present them to Congress for a full vote. On November 29, the select committee’s product did not receive the votes required to move forward. 

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