Enzi Calls for Bipartisan Budget Process Reform

WASHINGTON D.C. – Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi’s (R-WY) called for bipartisan solutions to fix America’s broken budget process today during a forum focused on budget process reform.  Earlier this year, Chairman Enzi proposed implementing new rules to make it easier for Congress to consider and pass its annual budget and appropriations measures, and update federal budget concepts that determine how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimate the cost of legislation so lawmakers can fully understand the economic effects of any new laws. Enzi noted that America’s mammoth debt is expected to skyrocket to more than $28 trillion in the next decade.

“After a decade of broken budgets, out of control spending and a surging national debt, it is time to confront one of the main sources of our country’s fiscal dysfunction: America’s broken budget process,” said Chairman Enzi.  “When the fiscal year ends in two weeks, the nation will have spent $590 billion more than it took in revenues. But Congress didn’t vote to approve this level of deficit spending in a comprehensive budget plan.  America’s budget is on auto-pilot, and the Congressional Budget Office tells us that we’re heading straight back to trillion-dollar deficits and unsustainable levels of debt.” 

Enzi noted that America’s national debt recently climbed above $19 trillion, which is larger than the entire US economy.  He said this level of debt will cost the nation $248 billion in interest payments this year, even with today’s historically low interest rates.  In a recent report, CBO noted that these interest costs will grow to $712 billion per year in 2026, as interest rates rise and the nation piles up an additional $9 trillion in new debt. 

Enzi’s proposed budget process reforms include:

  • Implementing new rules that encourage Congress to consider and pass an annual budget and appropriations measures under regular order.  For example, the Wyoming state legislature sets aside a certain number of months every other year to consider only budget legislation. Congress should have a similar rule.
  • Revising the concepts and rules that determine what’s included in the budget and how the CBO and OMB estimate the cost of legislation.  These outdated rules have not been comprehensively reviewed and updated since 1967, and often lead to confusing or inaccurate estimates.  A new commission of experts should update our federal budget concepts for the 21st century.  
  • Focusing Congress and the President on the long-term fiscal health of our country.  CBO’s long-term estimates show that estimated levels of future debt are unsustainable.  But our budget process focuses attention on the short-term, annual funding crises rather than the mandatory spending that will steadily bankrupt the Treasury over the coming decades. Congress must create long-term, enforceable fiscal targets with guideposts along the way that ensure revenues, spending, and debt are moving in the right direction, similar to what has been introduced by Senator Coats. A fiscal commission could recommend policies to Congress to meet those targets.

“The longer we wait, the bigger this problem will get.  The bipartisan reforms the Senate Budget Committee is working on won’t solve all of Washington’s fiscal problems, but they represent the first step in untangling the backwards budget process that continues to fail both taxpayers and lawmakers,” Enzi said.

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