Repairing the Broken Budget Process

House Budget Committee Members Unveil Comprehensive Reform Package

WASHINGTON – This morning, Members of the House Budget Committee introduced a comprehensive package of ten legislative reforms designed to help repair the broken budget process. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan issued the following statement upon release of these reforms:

“The federal budget process is broken. Washington stumbles from budget crisis to budget crisis, with little to no oversight of how government spends hardworking taxpayers’ money. The incentives currently favor those who want to spend more, and the result is a crushing burden of debt that is hurting economic growth today and threatening economic prosperity tomorrow.

“I’m pleased to join a team of reformers at the House Budget Committee committed to repair the broken budget process.  My colleagues at the Committee have put forward 10 proposals designed to strengthen spending controls, enhance oversight, and increase transparency.  These reforms mark an important first step to getting our arms around the problem, but there is no substitute for political will in solving our structural budget problems.

“The House Budget Committee will keep advancing solutions that deal directly with the drivers of the debt, help get our economy back on track, and ensure future generations a shot at the American Dream.” 

To learn more:

The budget process reform package includes the following bills:

Spending Control

  1. The Legally Binding Budget Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee)

  • Gives the budget the force of law by converting it from a concurrent to a joint resolution, which requires the President’s signature. Upon a presidential veto, the joint resolution automatically reverts to a concurrent resolution.

  1. The Spending Control Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. John Campbell of California)
  • Establishes binding limitations on federal spending and deficits all enforced by a sequester of no more than 4 percent of programs within each category if the program is growing faster than inflation.

  1. The Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act
    (Lead sponsors: Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland)

  • Provides for the expedited consideration by Congress of specific requests by the President to reduce discretionary spending in appropriations legislation.

Enhanced Oversight

  1. The Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act
    (Lead sponsor: Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin)

  • Establishes a biennial budgeting cycle where Congress adopts a budget resolution in the first session of Congress (i.e., odd-numbered years) and considers authorization legislation in the second session, providing greater opportunities for review of government spending.

  1. The Baseline Reform Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia)

  • Reforms the budget “baseline” to remove automatic inflation increases in discretionary accounts, and to require a comparison to the previous year’s spending levels.

  1. The Government Shutdown Prevention Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma)

  • If Congress fails to enact appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year (Oct. 1), provides automatic authority to fund programs at a slightly reduced rate from the previous year’s level.

  1. The Review Every Dollar Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah)

  • Requires periodic sunset reviews and reauthorization of all federal programs to ensure the programs perform an appropriate role and are operating effectively.

  • Requires all transfers from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund to be offset or counted as new spending.

  • Removes all direct spending provisions from Pell Grants and moves all funding to the discretionary spending category.

  • Requires any new rule or regulation promulgated by the administration that includes new spending to be explicitly funded by Congress before such regulations take effect.

  • Provides a mechanism through which Members can devote savings from spending bills to deficit reduction.

Full Transparency

  1. The Balancing our Obligations for the Long Term  Act
    (Lead sponsor: Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina)

  • Caps total spending over the long term to reduce the burden of government to no more than 20 percent of the economy by gradually reducing spending.

  • Requires Congress to review long-term budget trends every five years and provides a fast-track legislative process to put federal spending on a sustainable path.

  • Authorizes reconciliation of long-term savings (beyond the current limit of the budget resolution’s typical 10-year window, up to 75 years) in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

  • Requires CBO long-term estimates beyond the 10-year window.

  • Requires the President’s budget to extend beyond the 10-year window.

  • Strengthens the statutory requirement directing the President to submit legislation to save Medicare if the general fund subsidy to the program exceeds 45 percent of the program’s costs.

  • Requires GAO and OMB to report annually on the federal government’s unfunded obligations.

  1. The Budget and Accounting Transparency Act
    (Lead sponsor: Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey)

  • Reforms the Credit Reform Act to incorporate Fair Value accounting principles.

  • Recognizes the budgetary impact of the GSEs by formally bringing the entities on-budget.

  • Brings the U.S. Postal Service on-budget.

  • Requires a CBO & OMB study on offsetting receipts/collections/revenues.

  • Requires all federal agencies make public the budgetary justification materials prepared in support of their requests for taxpayer dollars.

  1. The Pro-Growth Budgeting Act (Lead sponsor: Rep. Tom Price of Georgia)

  • Requires CBO to provide an assessment of the macroeconomic impact of major legislation.