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November 07, 2019

King, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Get Deficit Under Control, Reform Congressional Budget Process

Bipartisan bill seeks to restore fiscal sanity, stop passing unsustainable debt to future generations

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce legislation that would make common-sense improvements to the federal government’s budget process. The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act would create a more deliberative budget process that emphasizes long-term fiscal planning over partisan brinksmanship and tackles growing debt and deficits.

“Here’s a statement that won’t draw a lot of disagreement: Congress’s current budget process is just not working,” said Senator King. “Under the current rules, we’re voting on the future of programs that provide vital services for the American people mere hours before deadlines to keep maintain America’s full faith and credit. The result: our deficit is increasing and we’re leaving an enormous amount of debt to future generations. There have to be better ways to advance America’s budget priorities, and we owe it to our constituents to work together to find them.”

Specifically, the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act would:

  • Move the budget resolution to a two-year cycle, while maintaining an annual appropriations process.
  • Require more involvement from Senate spending and taxing committees, including by requiring detailed spending and revenue plans to better inform budget development.
  • Support fiscal sustainability by requiring the budget resolution to establish a debt-to-GDP target backed by expedited congressional procedures for deficit-reduction measures.
  • Create a mechanism within the regular budget process to end the brinksmanship surrounding the statutory debt limit by conforming the limit to levels called for in the budget resolution.
  • Establish an optional new bipartisan budget pathway through which the budget would set deficit reduction priorities that include health care, revenue levels, appropriations, and tax expenditures. Such bipartisan budgets would require the support of at least 60 Senators, including at least 15 members of the minority party, and would be considered in the Senate under expedited procedures jointly agreed to by the Majority and Minority Leaders.
  • Provide a more orderly, deliberative process for Senate consideration of budget resolutions that preserves the ability of Senators on both sides of the aisle to offer amendments.
  • Enhance fiscal transparency by requiring that up-to-date tabulations of congressional budget action be publicly posted and that information on the interest effects of authorizing and revenue legislation be included in cost estimates prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The legislation also supports transparency efforts underway at CBO.
  • Require CBO and the Government Accountability Office to regularly review and report to Congress on portfolios of federal spending to help lawmakers make more informed budgetary decisions.

Senator King, who was named a 2016 ‘Fiscal Hero’ by the nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt, was among the most vocal critics of the 2017 tax legislation because of its strong potential impact to increase the national debt substantially. He introduced an amendment prior to passage that would instruct a Senate committee to create a deficit-neutral version of the legislation, and a motion after passage that would have required the conference committee to return a version of the tax legislation which did not increase the deficit; both provisions were defeated on party lines.

In addition to Senator King, the legislation is supported by the following U.S. Senators: Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

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