WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), David Perdue (R-GA) and James Lankford (R-OK) comment on the Joint Select Committee for Budget and Appropriations Reform:

“The Joint Select Committee was our chance to make meaningful changes to Congress’ broken budget process – instead, it turned out to be a lost opportunity. This is completely irresponsible. Throughout the process we had bipartisan discussions of ideas that could have fixed the way Congress funds the federal government and addressed our debt. Most of these ideas were met with little disagreement in conversation but suddenly received major pushback when it was time to put the ideas into action. We offered amendments to end Washington’s addiction to continuing resolutions and to hold members of Congress accountable for finishing the budget job on time. This should have been commonsense, but yet again political self-interest stood in the way of significant results. After eight months of work, there is no excuse for settling for the status quo. We are committed to continuing our efforts next year to responsibly fix the federal government’s funding process.”

Senators Ernst, Perdue and Lankford introduced amendments that would have achieved the following priorities:

  • Milestones With Consequences: Create a series of milestones for passing a budget and appropriations bills to keep Congress on track to fund the government on time. Coupled with changing the fiscal year, these milestones would provide more certainty for our military and other federal agencies. (Offered by Senator Perdue)
  • No Budget, No Recess: 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 to prevent senators from leaving Washington. (Offered by Senators Ernst and Lankford)
  • No Budget, No Travel: If the Senate has not passed a budget and appropriations bills on time, then the Senate is prevented from taking any official travel (Offered by Senator Ernst).
  • Change The Fiscal Year Ending From September 30 To December 31: Matching the fiscal year with the calendar year gives Congress more time to pass a budget and all of the appropriations bills. (Offered by Senator Perdue)
  • Change Budget Committee Membership: Changes the membership of the Senate Budget Committee to be six members of the majority, five members of the minority and the chair and ranking members of the Appropriations and Finance committees. (Offered by Senators Lankford and Bennet)
  • Establish Bipartisan Budget Resolution In Senate: Creates a separate path in the Senate for a bipartisan budget resolution. The resolution would be required to establish fiscal goals for the path of the debt- to-GDP ratio as well as a glide path for health care spending, tax expenditures, discretionary spending, and total revenues. (Offered by Senators Perdue and Whitehouse)
  • Make The Budget A Law: Change the budget from a concurrent resolution to a joint resolution, making it require the signature of the President and carry the force of law. (Offered by Senator Perdue)
  • Require 60 Votes: Raise the vote threshold for final passage of a budget resolution in the Senate from 51 votes to 60 votes, which is 3/5 of all Senators. This forces bipartisanship throughout the entire budget process while retaining the privileged nature of the budget resolution and matches the 60 vote requirement of the appropriations process. (Offered by Senator Perdue)
  • End “Vote-a-rama”: End vote-a-rama by requiring all amendments to be debated on and voted on within 50 hours of consideration. This would expedite the passage of a budget by limiting frivolous messaging amendments. (Offered by Senator Perdue)
  • Eliminate Gimmicks: Eliminate budgeting gimmicks by cracking down on the use of Changes In Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs) in the appropriations process that produce billions in hidden overspending. (Offered by Senator Lankford)
  • Change Reconciliation Process: Reconciliation is a powerful tool to get around the Senate filibuster. This amendment makes it a required part of the budget rather than an optional part. (Offered by Senator Lankford)

The Joint Select Committee was established by Congress on February 9, 2018 and is composed of 16 Members of Congress: four Senate Republicans – including Senators Perdue, Lankford, and Ernst – four Senate Democrats, four House Republicans, and four House Democrats. The members had until the ending of the calendar year to agree on changes to the budget and appropriations process and present them to Congress for a full vote. On November 29, the select committee’s product did not receive the votes required to move forward.