WASHINGTON – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) pushed for bold changes to the broken budget process this week with a series of common-sense amendments to prevent senators from leaving Washington if they fail to pass a budget and spending bills on time. 

“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 the government is done.  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,” said Senator Ernst.

Background:

During the Joint Select Committee for Budget and Appropriations Reform business meeting on Tuesday, November 27, Ernst offered four amendments similar to her No Budget, No Vacation Act.  All four of the amendments received nine votes in support and six votes in opposition, but they failed to receive support from a majority of each party, and therefore did not pass.

A summary of her amendments, is below:

  • Under Senator Ernst’s first amendment, if the Senate has not approved a budget and spending bills on time, then the Senate would be unable to adjourn for over eight hours; no funding would be available for official travel; and, two quorum calls would be held per day.
  • Her second amendment would apply these penalties only if the Senate fails to pass appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Her third amendment would apply these penalties only if the Senate fails to pass a budget by May 1.
  • Her fourth amendment would prevent members from any official travel if they have not passed a budget and appropriations bills on time.

Senator Ernst also supported an amendment from Representatives Arrington (R-TX) and Kilmer (D-WA) to create similar penalties in the House of Representatives, and she supported amendments from Senator Perdue (R-GA) to establish milestones throughout the funding process and to connect these milestones to penalties.