Rep. Price to Reveal Budget Process Ideas Nov. 30 at Brookings

By Jonathan Nicholson

Nov. 18 — House Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) will take the wraps off of his long-standing project to completely retool the federal budget process in an appearance Nov. 30 at the Brookings Institution, a top staffer said Nov. 18.

Rick May, the staff director for the House Budget Committee, said Price would release a “discussion draft” in conjunction with the Brookings appearance, in hopes of getting feedback that could be incorporated into legislative text that would not be released until early 2017.

May made the comments at a conference on budget process changes at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He said Price sees the current law that laid the foundation for the federal budget process—the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (Pub. L. No. 93-344)—as fundamentally broken and the product of a very different period in time.

“We believe that process was created for then,” May said. “We need a new process for today.”

Six Areas

While he did not delve into specifics, May said Price had six areas in particular he planned to focus on: restoring the congressional “power of the purse"; strengthening budget enforcement provisions: increasing transparency in the budget process; controlling spending now in automatic pilot; reversing a bias toward more spending; and ensuring budget sustainability.

George Everly, chief counsel for the Senate Budget Committee, said his boss, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) would provide more details on his plans for overhauling the budget process sometime during the post-election lame-duck session in a floor speech.

Everly said Enzi’s focus is narrower, and centers on incremental changes that could be made in the near term.

Everly said Enzi wants to make the budget resolution matter more, in part by making it harder to waive its point of order procedures to challenge bills on the floor; to getting the appropriations process finished; and having a commission set long-term budget goals for government.

Both May and Everly said they thought budget process changes could be pursued at the same time as the committees play critical roles in what could be a months-long effort to pass two budget resolutions and then follow-on reconciliation legislation after those resolutions are adopted.

Link to Debt Limit?

“For us, it’s going to be concurrent. We can walk and chew gum,” Everly said. Opportunities to make changes could take place in connection with legislation, the Senate Rules Committee and even with the incoming Office of Management and Budget, he said.

May said the need to again raise or suspend the federal debt ceiling, which could happen between March and late summer or early fall, according to analysts, could provide another way to change the federal budget process.

“Some type of legislative action is going to have be taken regarding the debt ceiling. It’s very possible budget process reform could be part of that discussion,” May said.

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