Search This Blog

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Budget Process

In the forward to a committee report on the congressional budget process, Senator Bernie Sanders offers some observations:

This volume explains, in excruciating detail, how the congressional budget process works. That process gives new meaning to the word Byzantine.
Let’s be clear: no one would intentionally design something like this. This process is needlessly complicated. Americans deserve a simpler, more transparent budget process.
This process is bound by precedent, but many of these precedents are known to only a few. Secret law is not fair law. This volume makes public precedents that Democrats have collected. We welcome others to join us and make other precedents public.
This process vests a great deal of power in the hands of the SenateParliamentarian, who does not answer to voters, to often make arbitrary decisions to block changes in law that would substantially improve the lives of working families supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people without a supermajority of 60 votes. As this volume makes clear, in the budget process, those decisions have empowered a minority of Senators to block a raise in the minimum wage, sensible immigration reform, a cap on the price of insulin, and many other common-sense initiatives.
A fair system would respond to the demands of the American people. The congressional budget process fails that test.
I hope that by laying out this story, this volume will highlight the weaknesses in the current system and spur reform. We need a more democratic system that allows the will of the American people to prevail.

From the report:

The Congressional Budget Act layered new institutions—Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office—on top of the existing structures. And the Budget Act layered new procedures on top of existing procedures. In Riddick‘s Senate Procedure, the premier authority on Senate procedure, the Senate Parliamentarian noted: “The provisions of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 supplement rather than supplant Senate procedure, and therefore they are not the exclusive means to achieve the purposes for which they were enacted.”13 This volume details those Budget Act procedures.