Budget reforms would end Senate vote-a-rama

The former accountant has only a small window of opportunity, however. He said in May that any reforms would need to be enacted before the November elections, so that neither party would know whose majority or White House would be affected by the reforms.

Congress has scheduled only five more weeks of work before voters head to the polls, thanks to lengthy summer breaks for both chambers.

Another reform would seek to make it easier for the Senate, in particular, to pass budgets. Following the budget process would break the pattern of recent years in which congressional leaders and the Obama White House broker emergency, government-wide spending bills behind closed doors.

To facilitate the budget process, amendments on budgets would be limited. That would eliminate the "vote-a-rama," a unique artifact of current rules that results in hundreds of non-binding resolutions being considered on the Senate floor.

In recent years, senators have used those rules to expose members of the opposing party facing re-election to tough votes on subjects irrelevant to the budget, forcing each other to stay in the Senate voting late into the night.

Should the Senate succeed in passing a budget, spending bills tied to the budget would be given automatic floor time, incentivizing senators to pass the spending bills to get to other business. And if they tried to violate the budget agreement with a large spending or tax-cut proposal, that vote would require a supermajority to pass.

The last suggestion is for a non-partisan commission to study how the budget should treat government investment or credit programs.

Source: Washington Examiner