It’s Time to Take a Hard Look at Our Budget Process

November 22, 2019
Weekly Columns

The federal budget process isn’t likely to be dinner table conversation, it rarely grabs cable news headlines, and it’s usually the furthest thing from our minds. But on Nov. 19 in a now-annual pattern, Congress punted its appropriation – government funding – duties for another month in what’s called a continuing resolution (CR). I voted against this CR, for several reasons.

First, if Congress followed the proper procedures, we wouldn’t even need a CR. We would set the balanced budget for the year, move appropriations bills through all 12 subcommittees, and get the final product to the president to sign before the September deadline. No CR or government shut down necessary.

Second, the CR was introduced and voted on within 24 hours. This barely gave us any opportunities to debate and analyze it amongst ourselves.

Finally, a CR is just an excuse for members to procrastinate on bipartisan solutions. We should have voted on appropriations weeks ago, yet here we are, pushing the deadline to the week before Christmas. This all but guarantees that Congress will focus on everything but appropriations for the next four weeks, and then leave it to leadership office staff to hammer out a deal in the eleventh hour.

This is no way to run a government. Neglecting to fund vital federal agencies like our military is a matter of national security. If the so-called “four corners” – the House Speaker, House Minority Leader, and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders – can’t reach an agreement by the new Dec. 20 deadline, the government will shut down. This will force hundreds of thousands of federal personnel, including soldiers and families living paycheck-to-paycheck, to work without pay until a deal is reached.

Impeachment continues dominating D.C., and congressional leaders continue neglecting their duty to reach a bipartisan agreement that funds the government. We can’t keep procrastinating on real issues that affect American families, which is why I’ve always advocated for a return to a transparent, timely appropriations process.