The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (Select Committee) Nov. 29 voted on its legislative proposal, failing to achieve the 10 votes needed to advance the measure. The final vote was 7-5, with four members voting “present.” The vote followed the Select Committee’s Nov. 27 continued markup of proposed legislative changes to the current budget and appropriations process.
The Select Committee’s legislation proposed moving to a biennial budgeting process, adjusting Congress’s deadline for budget submission from April 15 to May 1, and requiring the Executive branch to provide a new annual supplemental budget submission by Dec. 1 of each calendar year. A total of 10 yea votes were required for passage out of committee, including five from Republican and five from Democratic Select Committee members.
Lawmakers voting against the legislation cited the lack of significant changes to the current appropriations process presented in the proposed bill. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) stated her opposition in that “switching to a biennial budget resolution is not in my estimation a significant reform and in fact we already do this.”
Members voting “present” noted concerns with the fate of the legislation after leaving committee. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sought reassurance from Senate leadership about next steps but noted that “from the majority’s perspective there is zero interest in giving any floor time whatsoever to this measure in the remaining period of this Congress and therefore an unwillingness to enter into a floor agreement that would provide that floor time.”
Select Committee Chair Steve Womack (R-Ark.) expressed his frustration with the outcome of the group’s work, sharing in a press statement, “I am extremely disappointed in our failure and in my colleagues who lacked the ‘political will’ we have preached is so needed in Washington to vote out this good, bipartisan proposal. Their votes were on politics, not product… .”
The Select Committee’s markup and vote was a continuation of a Nov. 15 session when the legislation was first considered. Five amendments were accepted over the course of two markups, including an amendment to maintain yearly reconciliation rules, and an amendment to encourage development of bipartisan budgets.
The Select Committee was to remain in existence until the deadline to report its final bill on Nov. 30.