Perdue Proposes Dramatic Reshaping of Budget Process

Freshman Sen. David Perdue sketched out a plan Thursday that would make the annual budget resolution a law and embed appropriators in policy committees, combining the currently separate authorization and appropriation of federal spending.

The plan from the Georgia Republican, which is still short of being a formal bill, is the most far-reaching effort yet to fix what many lawmakers say is a broken budget process. It would be a “reinvention” of the budget process, a summary of the plan states.

“This can’t continue,” Perdue said, referring to a chart that showed that in the past 40 years, all of the appropriations bills have been passed and signed into law before the end of the year only four times. “It’s totally embarrassing.”

Perdue told reporters he has been working on the plan for about a year with the blessing of Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., and has incorporated suggestions from Democrats as well as Republicans.

“This is not a rogue effort,” he said. Perdue, who is a former president and CEO of Reebok and former CEO of Dollar General, said he also has discussed the proposal with fellow Georgia Republican Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Enzi and Price have dedicated much of the year to crafting an overhaul of the budget process, and both are aiming to complete their plans before the end of the year.

Perdue, a member of the Budget Committee, stressed that changing the budget process alone will not solve problems like the rapidly growing, $19.5 trillion national debt. But he said “you will never solve the debt crisis unless and until you fix the budget process.”

The major components of the plan include;

  • Changing the start of the fiscal year from Oct. 1 to Jan. 1;
  • Requiring 60 votes to consider a budget in the Senate and transforming it from a Congress-only fiscal plan to a bill that goes to the president to be signed into law;
  • Putting all spending and revenue including Social Security and Medicare into the budget and spending bills;
  • Cutting off pay to senators and their staff if spending bills are not passed on time.

The plan would overhaul the committee structure, he said, but without depriving appropriators of power.

Revenue Set

Under Perdue’s proposed realignment, the Senate Finance Committee would set the total revenue level at the start of the year.

A new Executive Committee for Appropriations would be led by the current chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee and made up of the chairs and ranking members of “policy” committees, or current authorizing committees.

The Executive Committee would set the spending topline and the 12 policy committee allocations, and later package the dozen bills reported by the policy committees into four large spending bills covering defense and veterans; health care, including Medicare and Medicaid; retirement, including Social Security and federal employee retirement; and, in the fourth bill, all other government programs.

The policy committees would combine the duties of authorizing and appropriating programs. Each policy committee would contain an appropriations subcommittee led by the chair and ranking member of that appropriations panel.

The Budget Committee would be turned into a Planning and Oversight Committee responsible for long-range planning.

Perdue said a new budget process is needed in part because the current one is too slow. “There is not enough calendar time to do a three-month budget process, an authorization process and an appropriations process,” he said.

Perdue said the plan is a work in progress, and he is not expecting any action on it before next year.

By:  Paul M. Krawzak
Source: CQ Roll Call