The Commission on Political Reform of the Bipartisan Policy Center, comprised of 29 commissioners from all walks of life, has been holding a series of National Conversations on American Unity across the nation over the past 18 months to investigate the causes and consequences of America’s partisan political divide with the aim of recommending specific reforms to improve the political process through a truly bipartisan reform agenda.
Our work culminated with the release of our final report, Governing in a Polarized America: A Bipartisan Blueprint to Strengthen our Democracy. It includes more than 60 recommendations that will enable our political system to work in a more effective manner. We have looked specifically at how we might improve our electoral processes, the processes by which the Congress legislates and manages its own affairs, and the ability of Americans to better engage with the country’s civic life through public service…
One of the most important of our 19 recommendations relating to Congress is that it change to a process of biennial budgets and appropriations to allow the necessary time and space to carry out its policymaking and oversight functions through the authorizing committees. Too often authorizers are given short shrift by being squeezed out between adopting budget resolutions and passing appropriations bills. By putting the spending cart before the policy horse, Congress has turned the regular order on its head.
Combined with our other central recommendation of adhering to five-day workweeks, synchronized between the House and Senate, with three weeks in Washington followed by one-week district work periods, we feel biennial budgeting will go a long way in restoring policy committees to their rightful role in the legislative branch as well as in giving the appropriations committees more time to oversee how our money is being spent and to better plan and allocate resources for the future.