Co-Chair Womack's Opening Remarks at Joint Select Committee Markup
As prepared for delivery during today's markup:
Good morning and welcome to the final meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform.
Established in February by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, our panel of 16 members was tasked with producing significant reforms to the budget and appropriations process and reporting our recommendations and legislative text by November 30th.
Our existing budget framework was conceived in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. However, regular order as outlined by the Budget Act has eluded Congress since fiscal year 1995—that was the last time Congress passed a budget conference agreement followed by all appropriations bills before the beginning of the new fiscal year.
With the acknowledgement of that fact, this Joint Select Committee approached our undertaking with the shared beliefs that the current process is broken and reform is long overdue… and the shared charge of recommending process fixes rather than seeking a specific budgetary outcome or an agreement on numbers.
Throughout the year, we’ve been hard at work to design a neutral process for the future – one which allows Congress to move forward with its budgetary agenda, no matter which party holds the majority.
That work started with five public hearings, and upon their completion, Joint Select Committee members continued to meet privately to vet potential solutions, build consensus in earnest, and put pen to paper on actual recommendations.
Today, we share those… beginning with the Womack-Lowey proposal. This base represents the areas in which my co-chair, Ms. Lowey, and I – along with the Joint Select members – came to agreement. I believe our recommendations will begin moving the ball forward to improve the functionality of federal budgeting.
As we proceed through our markup today, I am confident there will be additional reforms on which we will also reach bipartisan, bicameral consensus. I look forward to their consideration and debate held in the same bipartisan spirit with which we have conducted ourselves this entire year.
The most important role given to Congress under the Constitution is the power of the purse. This Select Committee has put nearly a year of collective effort into ensuring Congress can fulfill this essential Article I duty.
I am proud to have co-chaired this panel, I am proud to have worked with each of you, and I am proud of our product. However, it is not a silver bullet… I recognize that when we wrap up here today, there will undoubtedly be further areas of improvement necessary to perfect the federal budgeting process for the modern Congress.
It is my hope that we will all utilize the bipartisan, bicameral relationships developed through our cooperation to continue to be budget and appropriations process reform leaders and to continue to identify reforms that build on the successes of our work.
Before I hand it off to Co-chair Lowey for her remarks, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to you and your staffs for your dedication. The mission of this panel was too important not to succeed, and today, we will. Thank you. With that, I yield.