Iowa’s junior senator, Joni Ernst, pushed for what some termed “bold changes” to the federal government budgeting process last week with a series of amendments that would essentially prohibit senators from leaving Washington if they fail to pass a budget and spending bills on time.

The notion of penalties for not meeting deadlines is commonplace for most in the working world, but in a gridlocked Congress the expectations are obviously different.

During the Joint Select Committee for Budget and Appropriations Reform business meeting last Tuesday, Ernst offered four amendments similar to her No Budget, No Vacation Act. The committee is composed of 16 members of Congress: four Senate Republicans, four Senate Democrats, four House Republicans and four House Democrats.

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Ernst’s comments in the wake of that defeat are telling … to a point: “We had a real opportunity to make bold and much-needed changes to the way we do business in Congress. The amendments I put forward would hold Washington accountable and prevent the Senate from taking a break before our job of funding government is done.

All Four of Ernst’s amendments received nine votes in support and six votes in opposition. While that would seem, at first blush, to be a win for Ernst’s common-sense amendments, they failed to receive support from a majority of each party, and therefore did not pass.

“But once again, here we are with no real fix to this broken process. I am very disappointed in my Democratic colleagues who chose to preserve their vacations and the dysfunctional status quo instead of working together to fund the government responsibly,” Ernst added.

She noted that since 1974, Congress has passed all of its appropriations bills just four times. In the past 20 years, Ernst added, Congress has only passed a budget resolution 11 times.

Perdue, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, noted that “in the real world you are held accountable to make tough decisions and complete the job. Unfortunately, Washington is locked in a cycle of continuing resolutions and last-minute spending deals. This is totally irresponsible.

“We won’t fix this broken funding process or the national debt crisis if Congress refuses to hold itself accountable for failure,” Perdue added.

We agree. Taxpayers should not only expect more but demand more of our elected representatives.

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