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Grumet: Now Is the Right Time for Congressional Budget Reform

Washington, D.C.? The following is a statement from Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet on the announcements over the past week of members of a bipartisan, bicameral committee to review the congressional budget process:

“BPC applauds the appointment of 16 members to a bipartisan and bicameral committee to improve the broken federal budget process. The security and fiscal health of our country depends on Congress identifying and funding the nation’s priorities in a responsible way. The last time Congress passed all its appropriations bills on time was 1997. For over 20 years, our government has pasted together a national fiscal strategy driven by crisis, political brinksmanship, and resignation.

“Consistent with this troubling history, the recent budget agreement did not reflect the insight of an organized committee process or deliberation by the full Congress. It is encouraging that many members of Congress are as fed up with this process as the American people. The commitment to engage in a serious examination of the budget process is long overdue.

“The budget process as it exists today was instituted in 1974. Since then, the nation’s population has grown by more than 100 million people. Computers and the internet have revolutionized entire industries in that time. Major entitlements are also a larger part of today’s budget, having grown from a quarter of federal spending to almost 40 percent. The budget process has not fully adapted to these realities or grasped the full range of opportunities.

“While an improved and modernized process is not a substitute for political will, the current system is almost doomed to fail. BPC, among others, has proposed many reforms over the years that would improve the process. A comprehensive proposal by former OMB director Alice Rivlin and the late Sen. Pete Domenici would be an excellent starting point for the committee. Further, BPC convened several experts to author a report on how the budget process could better include long-term considerations in congressional deliberations.

“BPC calls on Congress to make this an honest, bipartisan, meaningful effort to improve the way Congress performs this essential function. We stand ready to help the committee however we can as it works to make the budget process function effectively for the American people.”