Price: Time to Put ‘Pen to Paper' on Budget Process Changes

By Jonathan Nicholson

July 8 — The head of the House Budget Committee intends to put “pen to paper” on ways to overhaul the federal budget process now that he has held many hearings on the matter, he told Bloomberg BNA.

In an interview July 8, committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) did not say how specific the end product will be, but said he does not expect to mark up a bill in committee this year. That is in keeping with his previous assessment that having a House vote and trying to send a bill to President Barack Obama's desk this year would be a futile move.

“My goal is to do a rewrite of the '74 Budget Act, and that's still our goal and we'll see how it works,” he said. “Our plan is to now begin to put pen to paper for an outline and then work through the issues that need to be addressed and where we can come forward with some positive solutions. Those are the next steps.”

Price's comments came a day after his committee held another in a long series of hearings on how to improve the often-Byzantine federal budget process. The committee heard July 7 from experts at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and George Washington University on accounting for the impact of federal regulations in the budget. A day earlier, the committee held a hearing focusing on alternative ways to approach budgeting.

Unanimity on Broken Process

Price said he may have one or two more hearings on the budget process, but that phase of the committee's work is largely over. How detailed his resulting outline will be, though, was uncertain.

“First you produce the outline. And then the vision and the goals, and then work through the draft, and then ultimately a piece of legislation,” Price said. “Our goal is to make certain we're ready to hit the ground running with a new president in the new year to fundamentally revise and update and make much more efficient and effective our budget process.”

Price said marking up a bill was “not in the cards” for 2016. “What we will have is, again, a description of what our vision is and where we see things going. I think, at some point, we will certainly have draft legislative language that we will share with folks both on the committee as well as outside.”

After what he estimated to be about 20 total hours of hearings on the budget process, Price said one thing that stuck out was broad agreement that the current process is not working well.

“If I had any surprise, it would be the unanimity of opinion, by and large, that there are things that need to be fixed in the budget process, regardless of folks' ideological background or stripe. There were individuals who said certain things are working well and others who said they were not, but I don't think there was a soul who said, ‘You don't need to do anything; everything's working just fine,' ” he said. “I thought we would hear some of that.”

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