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House Republicans Introduce Legislation to Improve Federal Budget Process

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By Masooma Haq

It has been almost two months since the new fiscal year started without a complete federal budget agreement with all 12 appropriations being passed. Some members of Congress are taking action to prevent such dysfunction in the future. Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) introduced the Budget Process Enhancement Act on Nov. 14.

Congress is expected to pass a short-term budget extension, called a continuing resolution (CR), this week among a whole host of other activities, including the public impeachment hearings looking into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

A budget compromise reached earlier this fall is set to expire on Thursday. Without a new CR or a full-year budget, (which has yet been unachievable due to partisan splits in Congress), a number of departments—including the Defense Department would face a partial shutdown.

House and Senate members are expected to approve a new budget to push back the deadline one more month, in hopes of reaching a full-year agreement before the Christmas break. Senate and House members are still trying to reach a compromise.

The Budget Process Enhancement Act would make some major changes to improve the existing budget process.

“First, it would force federal government departments and agencies to justify new spending requests every year, rather than wait for steadily growing lump sums from Congress.”

Second, a “no budget, no pay” provision would hold the “salaries of Members of Congress in escrow if they do not agree to a budget resolution in a timely manner after the current two-year agreement ends.”

According to the press release, the budget deficit will hit the 1 trillion dollar mark by the end of 2019, adding to the overall accumulated national debt of 23 trillion.

“One of the reasons we are in this mess is because Congress and federal agencies believe they should be immune from making the same tough spending decisions that families across the country make every week.

“The Budget Process Enhancement Act would put an end to decades worth of budget practices that are so egregiously sloppy and wasteful they would make even a second-rate CPA blanch. And if Members of Congress are unable to do their jobs and put together responsible budgets every year, they shouldn’t see a dime of salary,” said Biggs.

Biggs says he supports financial responsibility and stopping the mountain of debt from piling higher. He says the national debt is a result of “systematic failures.”

“That is what we are facing today in Washington, where the institutions of government have given up on their basic responsibilities. That is why I am a proud supporter of the Budget Process Enhancement Act, which will reintroduce responsible governance to our budgetary system.”

Norman adds, “For too long, the average citizen has carried the burden of our politicians’ failures. An important part of this proposal is that politicians would be forced to face the consequences of their actions by not receiving pay when they fail their basic budgetary duties. This is a crucial first step to make Washington work for the People, and not the other way around.”

Biggs wrote on Twitter Saturday: “What a surprise: we’re headed once again toward a CR that won’t cut our nation’s runaway spending or address the skyrocking debt. The Budget Process Enhancement Act, which I introduced this week with @RepRalphNorman, will help our nation emerge from this reckless spiral.”

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