House Panel Holds Hearing on Budget Reform

The House Budget Committee held hearing on March 25 to renew its efforts to reform the congressional budget process. The hearing, the first in a series, was marked by disagreement between the parties over how to overhaul the way Congress funds the federal government. Republicans took the position that the 1974 Budget Act must be rewritten to more effectively pass budgets, while Democrats blamed politics as the real reason for the budget stalemate in the House.

Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) said in his opening remarks, “A breakdown in budgeting leads to a breakdown in broader policymaking. That is why this reform effort goes far beyond the interests of just this committee or our friends on the Appropriations Committee. All of Congress and all committees have a vested interest in seeing that we have a functioning budget process. Perhaps the most troubling consequence of our current failed process is the remarkable growth in automatic spending.”

Members of the Committee and hearing witnesses offered several proposals for reforming the budget process, such as including mandatory spending in the budget, addressing tax expenditures, and placing restrictions on the use of continuing resolutions to fund the government.

Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) said that the Committee’s attention to the budget process was misplaced and that it should instead be focusing on how sequestration will impact federal spending when automatic budget cuts return next year. “The process reform we should be discussing is how to provide relief from the sequestration caps that return in full force next year,” Mr. Pascrell said. “We all saw what happened the first year it was in effect.”

The Senate has also begun to examine ways to reform the budget process, but, unlike in the House, those efforts have included a willingness from both parties to work across the aisle.  Senate Budget Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) hopes to introduce bipartisan legislation later this year.

Read Chair Price’s opening statement at:

Watch the archived webcast and read witness testimony at: