Federal Budget Reform

Dialogue Proposals Making an Impact in Congress

In 2016, Convergence brought together 23 ideologically diverse stakeholders representing an array of interests for the Building a Better Budget Process Project (B3P) dialogue to identify practical, politically realistic proposals to improve the often dysfunctional federal budget process.

After 16 months and 14 meetings, we released the Convergence Building a Better Budget Process report at the first ever Better Budget Process Summit, sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The 2018 report outlined five recommendations to improve the transparency, predictability, and comprehensiveness of the budget process.

The proposals received considerable attention on Capitol Hill and were well-received by Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

In May 2018, B3P members Matt Owens, from the Association of American Universities, and Emily Holubowich, with the Coalition for Health Funding, presented their proposals before the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (JSC). The JSC considered draft legislation that included several provisions mirroring those developed by the B3P participants in November 2018. Although the legislation was not acted on during that session, several pieces of legislation to reform the budget process were introduced in subsequent sessions that reflected the work of the JSC and the B3P participants.

In September 2019, B3P participants testified again about their proposals, this time in front of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The hearing centered on recommendations for improving the budget and appropriations process to help Congress function more effectively.

In October 2020, the Select Committee issued a report, with unanimous bipartisan support, that included 97 recommendations to make Congress work better for America. One chapter of the report, “Reform the Budget and Appropriations Process,” outlines the Committee’s recommendations for improving the budget process. The proposals incorporate most of the elements of the Building a Better Budget Process consensus recommendations, including a Fiscal State of the Nation report that would allow Members of Congress to “have access to nonpartisan information about the many factors contributing to the nation’s debt and deficit in order to develop sound fiscal policies and meet our long-debt and deficit reduction.”

In November 2021, the House passed, with broad bipartisan support, H. Con. Res. 44, the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution, introduced by Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Andy Barr (R-KY). The resolution requires the Comptroller General to present the report in an annual joint hearing of the House and Senate Budget Committees and open to all Members of Congress. The resolution aligns with the recommendation advanced by the Select Committee.

Now, a companion resolution is being considered by the Senate Budget Committee. In addition, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is stewarding its other recommendations through Congress. Convergence continues to work with the Select Committee and other Members of Congress to provide additional information and resources on the Building a Better Budget Process recommendations.

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