“If Congress hasn’t passed a budget and regular appropriations bills by August, they shouldn’t be able to go on vacation...”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Reform held a hearing on bipartisanship in budgeting and received testimony from several witnesses on ways to reform Congress’ dysfunctional budget process.
During the hearing, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) pointed to Congress’ inability to pass a budget resolution and appropriations bills, yet members still return to their home states for a month long state work period, or “recess”, in August before the start of each fiscal year.
The Senator stated that if members of Congress do not have their work done, they should not be able to go on “vacation” and asked witness Mr. William Hoagland, Senior Vice President of the Bipartisan Policy Center, to provide his insights on the effect this may have on incentivizing Congress to complete their work on time.
Additionally, as our deficit approaches one trillion dollars, Senator Ernst asked Mr. Hoagland and another witness, Mr. Donald Wolfensberger, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, to provide insights from their time as congressional staffers during a rare budget surplus. Mr. Hoagland stressed that the budget agreement was reached in a bipartisan manner, which required both parties to compromise.
In June of last year, Senator Ernst joined a group of her colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requesting the Senate work through the August state work period. Additionally, that following October, Iowa Senators Ernst and Chuck Grassley called for the Senate to remain in session for the scheduled October state work period to continue working.
Watch Senator Ernst’s questioning here or by clicking on the image below.