tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN January 6, 2016 5:00pm-7:01pm EST
off-year budget problems that could not be handled through reprogramming would necessitate numerous supplemental appropriations bills. in fact, the whole purpose of a biannual budget could be undermined by the proliferation of supplementals in the off years. perversely we would have replaced the democratic process of annual appropriations with supplemental bills that are sporadic, rushed, and heavily controlled by leadership. finally, let me switch hats for a moment and as a former house budget committee member articulate some additional concerns that were identified during the budget committee's hearing on this legislation. first the bill as currently proposed would make a number of changes unet ared to biannual budgeting that could weaken transparency in overall budget process. one provision would consolidate the budget functions and show increasing or decreases in spending that -- it would consolidate these functions that
show the increases or decreases in spending by specific topics such as transportation or health care. so, further breakdowns of this wouldn't be available during the mark-up, would never be voted on. might make it actually harder to identify spending priorities and it could mask proposed cuts. more broadly an annual budget resolution forces congress to regularly make spending and revenue decisions or at the very least to put on paper its fiscal priorities. relegating this task to once every two years could mean congress is essentially aband abandoning half of its opportunities to control the nation's purse strings. so, in closing, mr. chairman, for reasons practical as well as institutional, biannual budgeting isn't any better an idea today than it was 15 years ago. it would be a mistake to allow recent budget disagreements to lure us toward a supposed remedy that would make the budget appropriations process less systematic, less flexible, less potent. what we must do is muster the
political will to make difficult and politically costly decisions. including a comprehensive budget plan that addresses the main drivers of our deficit and our debt. namely tax expenditures and entitlement spending. so, i urge my colleagues to reject the siren call of biannual budgeting. thank you. >> may the gentleman from oklahoma, mr. cole. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and mr. ranking member, it's great to be here in this capacity before you, and in the interest of time i almost feel like i ought to just say amen and ask that dr. price's excellent testimony simply be repeated as my remarks because i couldn't be more in agreement with the many points he raised. but, again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify. every year congress seems beset by the same problems, missed budget deadlines, delays, late appropriations bills, inability to pass authorization bills and
runaway mandatory spending. let's look at the facts. since fiscal year 2007, congress has failed to agree to a budget resolution conference report by the statutory deadline o100% of the time. congress has met the budget resolution deadline only six times since 1974. to the extent congress wants to change the existing budget framework, changes should be made to consideration of the budget resolution, not to appropriations measures. changes to the budget process itself, a goal that i know chairman price shares, or a change to the senate rules that would allow appropriations bills to come to the senate floor more readily, are likely to yield significantly more benefits than most other options. biannual budgeting as envisioned actually reduces the opportunity for congressional oversight. the current annual process requiring agency administrators to justify and defend their programs and budgets is a critical tool to evaluate how
federal programs are working and how taxpayer dollars are being spent. under the existing annual structure, if agency spending is inconsistent with congressional intent, congress can take timely action that year in the next appropriation. with more than 100 budget and oversight hearings held annually by the appropriations committee, the annual appropriations process remains one of the most valuable congressional oversight mechanisms. yet under biannual budget -- excuse me, under biannual appropriations, that important oversight would either not occur or would occur only every other year. most authorizing committees already perform executive -- effective oversight of the programs under their jurisdictions. 2015 house authorizers held over 760 oversight hearings. clearly the problem for authorizers is not a lack of time. it's getting their bills through the political process. through congress and to the president. last year authorizers were able to generate the annual national
defense authorization act, the medicare access and c.h.i.p. re-authorization act of 2015, a long-term highway re-authorization and an esea re-authorization all of which demonstrate that authorizers have time for oversight. it's unclear whether hr-1610 does anything to actually strengthen the authorization process. as currently drafted, section 106 would actually preclude annual authorization bills like the ndaa and further diminish its oversight authority. besides relaxing oversight, biannual appropriations in particular would harmfully transfer powers away from congress to both the president and the bureaucracy. the constitution vests the power of the purse in this chamber, closest and most accountable to the people. biannual budgeting limits that responsibility. additionally, there are practical considerations which make biannual appropriations unworkable at the federal level. under an annual appropriations system making precise
projections about agency needs is already difficult. formulation of the present budget begins 15 to 18 months prior to the beginning of the fiscal year. even on an annual basis, estimates of discretionary outlays and fee collections will miss the mark. extending the budget lead time to 27 or 30 months would decrease the reliability and quality of the estimates, limit the executive branch's ability to foresee future needs and increase unanticipated funding requirements. supporters of biannual budgeting and appropriations often cite that many states use a two-year budget process, making it viable for the federal government. but this is a poor analogy in my view. unlike states, the federal government fulfills numerous functions no state can or should. it serves a population of well over 300 million people, provides for the national defense on a global basis, conducts international relations and the like. further, states operating under biannual budgeting have steadily declined since the 1940s as my
friend mr. hastings pointed out. from 44 states in 1940 to only 19 states today. fortunately, i'm skeptical that a shift to biannual appropriations will solve any of the problems that plague the budget process or improve the authorization or appropriations process. instead, it would undermine the constitutional power of the purse and strengthen unelected agency bureaucrats. it would weaken oversight across the board. it would lead to decisions based on faulty else mates, and would likely lead to increased spending. a view it is worth noting shared by previous chairman of the house budget committee when they served in this body chairman nussle and chairman spratt. mr. chairman, thank you. and i look forward to answering any questions you have. >> thank you, mr. cole. mr. mcclintock. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think we all agree that the current budget process is not -- [ inaudible ] -- has the house budget committee's begun a comprehensive overhaul of that process and i cannot stress
enough that the budget committee believes there needs to be a total and complete rewrite of the 1974 congressional budget act and that this is the top priority of its work this year. we are very concerned that consideration of a biannual budget bill or any patchwork changes make consideration of comprehensive reform this year much less likely. we would strongly urge the house to give its budget committee the time to develop and recommend a complete replacement of the process. but in the meantime, we should certainly avoid making the problem worse. i commend the author and the supporters of the bill for searching for a better way, but i'm very concerned that hr-1610 runs afoul of the one law we have no control over, the law of unintended consequences. at the heart of this bill is the universal frustration felt by all of us that the budget process consistently breaks down because of its complexity and magnitude. hr-1610 attempts to address this
by changing the annual budget process to a two-year cycle in which the budget resolution, the appropriation bills and the reconciliation instructions are adopted in the first year of a session to cover the next two years. well, we desperately need a process that produces responsible budgets and appropriations, but we need to ask if this measure doesn't take us farther away from that goal. this bill doubles both the time span and the amount of money that are at stake in the budget and reconciliation and appropriation bills. the difficulties of deing with these tough fiscal issues are already enormous. this bill raises the stakes by a factor of two. the nature of the fiscal process is quintessentially one of give and take and compromise. i think people are much more likely to compromise if they know they'll be able to revisit the issue in a year. i think they are much less willing to compromise if they know the outcome will be locked into the law for the next two years. i think both sides under this
measure would be far more likely to dig in their heels on these tough issues under a two-year process knowing they won't be able to revisit them next year. proponents are rightly critical of congress' preference to kick the can down the road on fiscal bills particularly during an election year. but let me ask you, doesn't a two-year budget process institutionalize this problem? assuming you can reach agreement in the first year, which this bill makes much less likely, the two-year budget puts the second year on autopilot by design. proponents believe that congress doesn't have enough time to do oversight because of demands made by the annual budget process, and this reform would free up a whole year to do that. but as has been pointed out, we do a lot of oversight right now. the house conducted more than 767 oversight hearings last year alone. what gives oversight teeth is the money that congress
appropriates. otherwise oversight is just hot air. right now agency administrators must appear before congressional committees every year to justify and defend their programs in order to receive funding. if an agency's spending is inconsistent with congressional intent, congress can address that issue that year in the appropriations process. when an agency is dependent on congress for its budget, it is by necessity more responsive to congress. why would we render congress impotent to act one year out of every two? true, the two-year budget gives agencies greater certainty of what they'll be able to spend. but doesn't that come at the expense of congress now having far less certainty of what those same agencies will actually need and far less control over how they're spending it? furthermore, as has been pointed out, it's difficult to peer one year into the future, it's far harder to anticipate conditions and needs two years hence. under the biannual budget,
agencies would start their budget process 28 months before the beginning of the second year and 40 months before the end. the natural result has been pointed out is going to be an explosion of supplemental bills in the second year which is the very antithesis of good budgeting. i think the proponents of biannual budgeting tacitly admit the shortcomings. we've heard the suggestion to modify the proposal by retaining the annual cycle for reconciliation and appropriation bills and only imposing the two-year cycle on the budget resolution. but the irony is, the budget resolution hasn't been the big problem. in 32 of the last 40 years, congress has enacted a budget resolution, albeit sometimes slightly late. the appropriation bills have been the heavy lift. we've separately enacted all of our appropriation bills only four times in the last 40 years. there is a reason why most states are abandoning two-year
budgets in favor of annual appropriations. the states that retain biannual cycles are by and large the smaller states, and even among them it's a hardly a panacea, one of them is hawaii who has run up the second highest per capita debt in the country. so, in conclusion, let me just point out, i know there are a lot of people who believe that it would be -- they look at this, the budget process, and say it would be impossible to make it any worse. but i think there is a way. we could craft a process that makes compromise and concession more difficult by doubling the time span and money that's at stake. we could require that congress kick the can down the road every election year, precisely when the american people are paying the most attention. we can make congress impotent to act on its oversight findings every other year. we can make the final year of each session dependent on information that's between 28 and 40 months stale. and we could bypass the comprehensive review that the
house budget committee's already begun that seeks to reform all aspects of the budget process. i would suggest perhaps we should take a word of advice from hippocrates, first, do no harm. >> i thank the gentleman. mr. schrader? >> well, i appreciate the opportunity to be here, mr. chairman, and testify on hr-1610 the biannual budgeting and enhanced oversight act of 2015. the second time i joined with mr. ribble in sponsoring this concept because it actually gives congress the opportunity to return to doing the people's business in a more efficient and thorough manner. we don't have that right now. every single member that's testified before this committee, mr. chairman, right now has said the process we have haven't working. the definition of insanity is continuing to do that. with the recent election of a new speaker of the house, part of the mantra as i understood it from the majority party was we were going to do things different. if a bill has a certain number of sponsors, the members think
it's worthwhile to consider not only do they get a chance at a hearing. they get a chance at a markup, and they get a chance for that bill to show up on the floor. i don't see what's wrong with that. there's no guarantee this is going to pass. no guarantee at all. we have members that are very concerned. i think their concerns are misapplied. as has been pointed out we've had difficult time passing budget bills. it's a purely theatrical political process. you, yourself, has served on the committee, mr. chairman, mr. ribble and i have, members here. it's unfortunate, i was co-chair for the budget process for my state of oregon for six years when i was in the state senate. it actually had meaning. it actually was substantive and we did it biannually at that time. we made sure that we set targets so that agencies knew what they were and we could hold them accountable, more so in the off years than has been implied so far. the last session of congress i think is a good point to go from. we're able to pass a lot of good things bipartisan manner.
there's an opportunity to do good work together. rein in the intelligence ga gathering, long-term transportation bill, implement some social security disability reforms. i think those are great things and it's been done in a highly partisan atmosphere, but yet the budget process still is dysfunctional. i don't understand why we would want to fight this battle every single year. most businesses and responsible households have a longer time frame for their uqbudget. they don't budget year to year or six months down the line or retroactively like we seem to do with a lot of our tax issues. they actually have longer term budget horizons. you can appropriate in between. you can make changes. we did that in oregon when needed. but there's a certainty out there that this budget process lacks right now the good business sense would indicate is totally irrational and not helpful at all. there is no certainty. biannual budgeting will allow the agencies to do their job.
i would respectfully suggest to my appropriations colleagues here that when i was in the state legislature, my agencies in oregon spent a lot of time preparing with their dog and pony show before they came before us. they actually spent time in their offices testing and role playing how they'd respond to all this stuff. is that what you want your agencies to do with your taxpayer dollars? no. you want them to actually be doing the job you've assigned to them. i have a -- i'm a big fan of the appropriations process in the united states congress. it's one of the few areas where there has been historically some pretty consistent bipartisanship when it gets to making those tough decisions. i laud my members that are on that committee. it's pretty impressive. but that unfortunately does not have to go away. in the off years there's an opportunity i think for these members to actually work a little closer together. when i was co-chair of the budget back in oregon, not only did the agencies have certainty to do the job they were assigned to do, they knew they were getting reviewed.
we could judge them on their outcomes not whether i like that program or not or i was personally invested in it, but did they produce good results. and in the off years, we could delve very deeply into the program, not just the oversight committee, but members of each of the subcommittees could go and look deeply into those programs that weren't performing like they were told to or expected to. that's the power that the appropriations people will have as a result of it going to biannual budgeting. much more thorough investigation rather than just deciding if there's a slight increase based on inflation and caseload from the year before and whether they or someone in leadership likes their program. i think it will empower these folks much more dramatically than we're seeing right now. we're not going to see comprehensive budget reform. i respectfully disagree with my good colleague from california, it's not going to happen. frankly the majority is not inclined towards comprehensive reform. i'm not sure i agree with them on all those cases. but something of this nature, let's do it. let's do something that we know
will systemically change how we do things in a positive manner. i think it gives much more power to the legislature. much less to the executive because we're going to be going deeply into these programs. the executive branch, yeah, they want this sort of thing to happen because they want to have their agency be able to do the work. if they're coming before us and we're spending six months every two year -- every year with this dog and pony show, they're not going to be able to do the work. and if we're just looking at the top lines we're not going to get the information we need to protect the taxpayer and give them what they need which is good budgeting process. i'd respectfully suggest that with the limited budget dollars we have available to us that we give the agencies a chance to do their job and then hold them accountable every, every time we can. there's nothing that says in this bill appropriations people can't on a much more often basis to do what they need to do. thank you, mr. chairman. >> we have a lot of folks to
come and testify before this committee, some folks have found their passion. recently roinle on this panel has found their passion long, long ago and shares it. i'll ask the sponsor of the bill, my friend mr. ribble, i heard dr. price say, distinguished between biannual budgeting and these two-year budget agreements that we've been operating under now for four years. but it seems to me, those of us who have frustration with the inability to get the appropriations process finished on time or even finished at all, this oversight that we talk about is only valuable if it actually occurs to the degree we're governing with continuing resolutions, i would argue we're not experiencing any of that oversight that the appropriations process should provide to mr. hastings point about finding some test cases. can we use this biannual budget agreement that has been crafted as the test case as to whether or not this will lead to a better appropriations outcome?
>> we're already into the third year of a biannual agreement quite frankly. we had the ryan murray agreement and then the agreement that speaker boehner negotiated. and so when it gets pulled away from the politics of the day, they go to a two-year budget because they get the certainty and quite frankly, i think mr. price rightly commented that in an annual appropriations process, having that second-year number early actually benefits them. there's no reason right now that the appropriations committee cannot move forward with the second year appropriations already. they can start right now. because they now have a top-line number. that's one of the key advantages. you can argue, and i think there is room for that argument and that debate, about whether it should be annual appropriations, biannual budgeting or biannual appropriations and biannual budgeting. i prefer the latter. however, i'm open to try to make a step in the right distribution here. excuse me, mr. chairman. to try to get this thing working
correctly, and i made some suggestions to our appropriations committee, we're working behind the scenes to try to find a path forward. one of the things i suggested was to apply to the congress -- when i say that congress, i'm not talking about the house. i'm talking about the congress ---en enforcement trigger that requires the congress to stay and do its work until the appropriations bills are actually moved. if we would do that, you would be surprised, we probably could actually get both of these things done. we could have appropriations done and we could have budgeting done and some of the concerns and fears out there about biannual would melt away like the morning dew if we could just get that done. but, you know, sometimes congress works better. i was surprised a year or so ago, two years ago, after the senate had failed to pass any budget at all, we put into a debt limit increase another piece of legislation that i had worked with jim cooper on, congressman comer from tennessee, called no budget, no pay, just a piece of it. and like a miracle in 20 days the u.s. senate after three years of not doing anything
passed a budget. and that enforcement trigger moved the senate to actually do their job. the american people want this place to work on their behalf. and quite frankly, mr. chairman, with 233 co-sponsors, those co-sponsors are the voices of 700-plus thousand people in each of those districts and they're saying we need to fix this. >> mr. mcclintock, i tend to agree with mr. shhachradschrade definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get a different result. the frustrations we have are shared frustrations to missing deadlines and having the power to navigate down pennsylvania avenue to the white house, on and on. do you anticipate the reforms that happen in a comprehensive package even beyond biannual budgeting addressing those concerns? >> i can tell you that chairman price is absolutely devoted to bringing a comprehensive reform to the floor this year.
we all agree this process isn't working, but so many of the arguments in favor of the biannual budget are predicated on the assumption that a two-year budget is going to be somehow magically much easier to pass. i think quite the contrary it will be harder to pass, because as i said, the stakes are literally doubled. congressman ribble said something that's very important. he says, you know, we could meet these deadlines if we just kept the house in session until we pass them. i've seen that in the state legislature in california. we can't negotiate and make all of the discussions that are necessary if we're scattered to the four winds from one side of the continent to the other. i think that's a tacit admission. it's not the annual budget process that's at fault. it is other matters, such as those that allow the congress simply to pass the deadline and go home. you keep us in session day after day, i'll guarantee you we'll work out an agreement. like i said, i've seen it in
california and those were the days when it required a two-thirds vote to pass the annual budget. >> the annual budget i might add. >> it's been 20 years ago this year the last time congress passed all the appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year. many of the objections i hear to biannual budgeting come from my friends on the appropriations committee, when biannual budgeting is paired with biannual appropriating. if i understood correctly, dr. price, you would oppose both biannual budgeting and biannual appropriations? mr. cole, you might be able to tolerate biannual budgeting but would insist on annual appropriations, is that a fair characterization? >> i'll let my colleague respond and i'll -- >> i was stressing that while i support this two-year budget agreement and the one before that and think that has helped us get past these very partisan,
very politicized budget resolutions that simply -- they not only make bipartisanship impossible, they make appropriations impossible, literally. you cannot pass appropriations bills to those levels. so, we have these budget resolutions that are largely political documents, and at the end of the session with a shutdown looming, we renegotiate those numbers for discretionary spending and we stitch together these appropriations bills. as i said, not ideal, but better than the alternative. now, -- but those are simply -- those budget agreements consist simply of an adjustment in the discretionary spending caps. the annual budget resolution does a lot more than that in terms of setting revenue and entitlement spending levels, the reconciliation process, lots of other things. if you're looking for something closer to the ideal, i would look back to the five-year agreements of the 1990s. because those agreements were
comprehensive. they didn't just deal with discretionary spending levels. they did deal with revenue. they dealt with entitlements. they produced a -- we still had annual appropriations. and for that matter we still had annual budget resolutions. but the five-year agreements set parameters which i think were enormously successful, that along with pay-as-you-go rules. so we had four years of balanced budgets. we, of course, had a roaring economy to help with that. but that was -- that was all interrepresent interrelated the fiscal responsibility in this body had a lot to do with the kind of virtuous cycle that set in in the '90s. so, i -- yes, i think we would still need an annual budget resolution, but the heart of the matter here is annual appropriations. as mr. ribble just said, that actually might be facilitated with the right kind of multiyear budge the agreements. >> as a member of the budget committee, i feel targeted by the suggestion of biannual
budgeting as if somehow the budget committee has failed, i sometimes sense that accusation and same defensive coming from appropriators since that is one of the processes that has succeeded when our other processes have failed. but, mr. cole, it's been 20 years since we finished the approa appropriations process on time. >> this year every single appropriations bill was passed by the appropriations committee in plenty of time to go to the floor. and we all know what derailed the appropriations process on the floor and it had nothing to do with the appropriations. it was the confederate flag issue that stopped it. i think that speaks very poorly of the congress as collectively. i don't think it affects the appropriations committee one way or the other. you asked a specific question, first, obviously the bill would be more palatable to me if it allowed for an annual appropriations process. but i would still oppose it. i mean, i also have the same
concerns that my colleagues pointed out from a budgetary standpoint. and i think you also lumes the opportunity to talk about, you know, what i think is one -- what the fundamental problem with expenditures around here and that's entitlement spending and tax expenditures as my friend talked about. if you're an appropriator, you just say, well, why don't ways and means bring real entitlement reform to the floor? we bring appropriations bills every year. and the times that we have not brought those to the floor, again, they've normally been leadership decisions by democrats or republicans when they were respectively in power, because they either didn't want to subject people to difficult votes or -- and, you know, that's -- that's a leadership problem around here, quite frankly, that i think both sides of the aisle share. and i think normal members ought to be concerned about how much of their ability has gravitated to the leadership. i don't care who's in power at any given moment. if you're writing appropriations bills in the speaker's office,
you're making a big mistake, because you don't have the staff for it, you don't have the expertise for it and i can assure you nobody in leadership goes to committee meetings on a regular basis. that's why you want people who have actually gone to the hearings and have built up expertise over years doing these things. one last point, at least people think that partisanship makes that impossible. it's certainly a factor. we live in a much higher polarization and much more intense partisanship than some earlier eras, but appropriators can usually sit down and get the deal done. they usually find a common middle ground on expenditures of money. what tends to complicate things is when we add a lot of extraneous issues that we all believe in, but if you put it in the appropriations process, it will make it extremely difficult. my friend and i can come to an agreement on the expenditure of money, i could put some things on and he could put things on that are extraneous and that's
what complicates the appropriations process quite frankly. it's not the spending of money. it is the policy issues that have not been resolved and turn to the appropriations committee as the mechanism to get them through. i would simply like them to deal with them within their respective lanes of jurisdiction. we're there about spending money. we're not there really to legislate. in saying that i don't mean we should give up our ability to frankly micromanage the executive branch, and i think you can do that very effectively with dollars. but, again, there are other issues that far transcend that that we've allowed to get into the appropriations process, both sides have done that. i'm not trying to cast aspersions either way and that makes life more difficult. but, again, the oversight -- we know we can do this. we've just demonstrated. the appropriations committee brought every single bill through the entire committee on time. so, that's not the problem. the problem is on the floor. not in the appropriations committee. >> before fielding to my friend
from north carolina i see don wolfensburger is in the audience today. former staff director here at the rules committee. decades of service to the american people on capitol hill now with the bipartisan policy center. i would like to have their testimony entered in the record with a copy of their report governing in a polarized america, a bipartisan replay to strengthen our democracy. without objection, put that in the record. gentle lady from north carolina. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and i want to thank our witnesses today for their frank contributions to this very useful discussion. we have a similar hearing on this issue last congress. at that time i hadn't yet come to a position on this issue. but after studying the issue and hearing the perspectives laid out at that hearing and today, i believe a move to biannual budgeting is premature. particularly if it is not paired with additional budget process
reforms. each day my constituents cry out for congress to use, quote, the power of the purse. unfortunately, it is clear that after congress' consistent surrender of legislative power of the president over the past few decades, the power of the purse has become illusionary at best. a budget process document prom the peterson pew commission on budget reform stated that a con of biannual budgeting would be that it delegates authority to the executive. we will not see an effective power of the purse restored to its rightful place with congress by cutting in half the opportunities congress has to utilize it. eliminating the budget appropriations process every other year would also run counter to our emphasis on regular order.
members of the house support regular order because it gives congress several opportunities to influence the outcome of legislation and policy. ceasing consideration of appropriations bills covering the full spectrum of federal agencies that generally eventually pass in some form and that are typically considered under an open process would disempower members. while they may have the opportunity to weigh in on an authorizing legislation, past experience shows us that legislation is less frequently enacted and has a far less immediate impact. finally, we have to admit the real problem, and it is not [ inaudible ] since we've done it repeatedly both executive agencies and congress clearly have the staff and expertise to do an annual budget process.
the truly scarce resource is political will. when congress has failed to complete the appropriations process in the past, it's been because it has feared making the tough decisions necessary and punted to future years. my colleague on the rules committee and chairman of the hhs appropriations subcommittee i think has rightfully stated the issue. i'll admit there would be frustrations included in completing the process on time, such as late votes or working on the weekends, but those would be worthy investments and genuinely fulfilling our responsibility to our constituents. there's certainly reforms to the budget and appropriations process that could make it more effective, such as reconsidering the number of appropriations bills or implementing no budget,
no pay permanently. i'm very supportive of the budget committee's work to reform the budget act and hope we are able to strengthen congre congress' role in the budget process and produce pressure points that force congress and the president to confront our fiscal realities. perhaps in that context, a discussion on biannual budgeting could have merit, but it must be accompanied by the president's return to congress the power of the purse and acceptance of new limitations on his authority. and i agree, this is not a partisan issue. it is not associated only with this president. but with all presidents. so, i, again, thank my colleagues. i think already the testimony has raised some important new issues on why don't we have ways
and means bring entitlement reform to the floor. for us to deal with. i'm frankly tired of explaining to people that our real problem is not the annual spending, which is only one-third of what we spend each year, but is truly in what is called the automatic pilot spending that's going on. i hate -- i hate two words that are used often, and identify really won't even say them. one is the m-word and the other one is the e-word. and i honestly don't like those words at all. because, again, they're not in the constitution. we have the discretion every year in this body and in the
senate to decide what money should be spent, and frankly, we should be doing that every year instead of putting anything on automatic pilot. i am -- you know, my first month here i made that speech. i couldn't believe people were talking about how we divide these two spending pots. but anyway, i think it's really important. i think it's very important that we highlight this every chance we get for the american public and that we be held accountable to do something about this. i'm big on that, too. i do have some questions i'd like to ask, and i'll start again with my colleague from the rules committee, who is also on the appropriations committee. mr. cole, those who have concerns biannual budgeting, and some of that has been talked
about today, i think should identify other potential improvements to the process. but you're so intimately aware of the existing process, would you make some other suggestions on ways to improve the appropriations process? again, i think the issue that was brought up today about doing something about the bills that are on automatic -- or the spending that's on automatic pilot. but would you make some other suggestions. >> they would be very technical and really i think around the edges. i'd like to see all the amendments preprinted and so that we know what's coming. i think that makes it easier to estimate the amount of time. i think it minimizes the tendency to do gotcha amendments. i think they'll happen. members have to have the courage to vote up or down on things. the other side or people with on different point of view on your
own side will have the opportunity to ask difficult votes on amendments. that's fine. but you have to have the courage to do it. second, you know, this is just me, but i would never allow a continuing resolution. i would get rid of that -- that is the big abdication of responsibility. i will tell you three years ago when we operated by a continuing resolution, and as my friend pointed out there's a big difference between an omnibus and a continuing resolution. an omnibus, at least those have all gone through committee and subject to amendment. it's not an automatic pilot sort of thing. but a number of years ago when we did this, and i say this with no -- no particular animus toward anybody, but the appropriations committee wasn't even consulted. that was a leadership decision to do a continuing resolutions without talking to the chairman of the appropriations committee. they had no idea what they'd given up. they had no earthly idea how much power they had ceded to the
executive branch. if you want to make people do the job, make them do the job. don't give them an easy way out. and i would mandate -- again, this is just, you know, that those bills as soon as they're marked up in committee, that they move to the floor immediately. there's no sense holding them around because there's going to be -- let's get them to the floor and find out whether or not. last point i would make is -- and i'm not exactly sure the mechanism. but we've got to -- got to sit down and decide this whole issue of riders and what's appropriate and what's not. again, it's appropriate to me if we're talking about managing money inside of an agency. if we're attaching lots of other things to them or limiting that agency, that's fine. when we go in to other areas where, again, if you can't move it across the floor in a straight-up bill out of an authorizing committee, why in the world do you think we're going to be able to get it through an appropriations
committee? sometimes we can. but this leads to much more dysfunction than it does to actually reaching a policy objective, so i would recommend that we sit down and study those. but those are just, again, at the end of the day, i think you hit it precisely in your testimony, this is a question of political will and political courage. and this is also a question of going into areas that are, quote, the third rail and all the entitlement and all the tax areas and having the courage to vote. and, you know, the appropriations process will, you know, in so far as it is dysfunctional, it's largely dysfunctional because we have problems, i would argue, in other areas. the committee actually does its work pretty well, when it's allowed to do its work. >> well, i want to say to you -- and i should have said this at the beginning, that i do compliment the appropriations committee for having done its work last year and getting every bill out. and i agree with you. it's unfortunate that we were not able to get votes on all of
that legislation. so, i want to compliment all of you for doing that. and i want to say to my colleagues, i know that mr. ribble has pointed out that there is bipartisan support for this legislation. but there's also bipartisan opposition to this legislation. and i very much appreciate dr. price's comments today. and particularly our colleague mr. hastings. i think he and i find ourselves sort of in the same place, and i always think it's important that we highlight that when -- because people think we always disagree on everything, and i think oit's important. mr. mcclintock, you talked a little bit about your concerns and you're always so articulate. i always learn from you when you speak. but we've talked a lot about the congress' role in the budget process, but i think we agree
that the president is the major impediment to this process as well. and i think the comprehensive reforms your committee's undertaking are vital. would you -- would you give a little more of your thoughts on how we can ensure the president and executive branch give back some of the power to congress and make constructive contributions to the process? >> again, the term regular order is thrown around here a lot. i hope it doesn't lose its meaning because it refers to a process that's evolved -- it was established in the constitution. it's evolved over two centuries of practice to be a pretty good way to resolve differences among very diverse opinions and to separate the powers of government in a manner that preserves our liberty. the president's role in the budget is the chief executive officer of the country, of the country's government, i should say, is to estimate what does he think it's going to take to
faithfully execute the laws that he is responsible for administering. once he's done that, the president has no role in the process. from then on, it is the sole prerogative of the representatives of the people to decide how much money we will give him to run the government. he then enters the process at the very end by deciding whether to sign or veto that legislation. i think we short-circuit that separation of powers when we hold behind closed-door meetings between legislative leaders the president. certainly there's going to be a constant stream of discussions going back and forth. but congress needs to restore its role in the most important function it serves, and that is to appropriate the moneys necessary to run the government. >> thank you very much. mr. ribble, one -- if you can do
this fairly quickly. i don't want to abuse my colleagues' time, but you -- your reasoning for this, you say, is that it would help us do our appropriations process better. but if we haven't been able to complete 12 appropriations bills by september 30th in past years, why do you think that this change would make it more effective to change the process, not the frequency of the process? what is it about this that would make the appropriations process better? >> sure. thank you for the question. i recognize that right now the system is so badly broken it's not getting done at all. i would accept the fact that under a biannual appropriations and biannual budget sis that it might actually take a bit longer
to get done. if you would add enforcement trigger that requires the congress to put in the requisite number of days to do the american people's work, there's adequate time in the calendar to do this work, whether you're doing it annually or biannually. the one thing that amazes me in all this is the lack of acceptance of fact that the bulk of this arithmetic. it really is just arithmetic. and arithmetic's not all that complicated to be honest with you. you're adding and subtracting and you're adjusting the numbers based on requests from the executive branch. and so the time that we have is there. we choose by our congressional calendar to not put the will of the american people first and their priorities first in our calendar, but to put the members' convenience first on the calendar. all we have to do is change the calendar, and we would have the time. mr. mcclintock very articulately stated this just moments ago.
and so it's not for lack of -- i hear the lack of will and all that, i get all that a little bit. but we -- we put ourselves deliberately in a three-day workweek. and when you have a three-day workweek, you're going -- you're maybe we should do what the american people do, work five days a week. and sometimes if you don't get work done, work a little bit of overtime and actually do the american people's work. there's time to do it. it's mathematics. >> well, thank you very much. but i will have to tell you that i work a seven-day week, and it -- i really do take offense at the notion that you have to be in washington to be working. i do not believe -- i work just as hard on the days we are not in washington as when we are in washington. and so i get very frustrated by that approach that if we're not in washington, we're not
working. >> duly noted, madam vice chair. the problem is when we're gone, we turn it over to staff, we turn it over to leadership rather than to members. >> but, again, please don't keep saying to the american people that if we're not in washington we're not working. because i -- i think most of us when we're at home are listening to the people we represent, participating in activities that are important for us to participate in, and learning the kinds of things that we need to learn. because everybody can't come to washington to tell us what it is we need to know. and so i really do take offense at the fact that we have to be in washington to be working. and i think that -- that hurts the image of the congress of the united states and is one of the factors that makes us have such a low rating.
frankly, i cherish the time in the district. not because i'm home with my family, but because i am with the constituents. and so, i think we can -- we can walk and chew gum at the same time chew gum at the same time, at least most of us can. thank you. >> just to improve that we're not -- >> thank you very much. i don't mean to booed beat up on mr. ribble, but this past weekend i happened to go on the same day running errands to the bank, the grocery store, and to the cleaners. and in each place, i wound up there as many as 15 or 20 minutes talking with people who had all sorts of questions. and i'm sure you have the same thing. so really our job is almost 24/7. but i take your point, and i'm sure doctor parks does, too. but i join her in saying that, you know, the one point that you made that i really like is that
we should do overtime. and when we do overtime, i think we should get paid time and a half. wouldn't go that far. [ laughter ] >> maybe we can get some -- mr. chairman thank you so much for enter into the record the information that mr. wilson brought to us from the bipartisan policy snempl i think it's very informative. additional lesion i'd like to compliment our witnesses. we have a rule that witnesses are supposed to prepare and present their testimony in advance of a hearing. and it helps us to be informed. in this case, the outstanding witnesses that have appeared here, our colleagues, have done that. and i can say to them that i read their testimony and heard their testimony as well and i'm deeply appreciative. mr. chairman, if you would permit me just a moment of rnl
personal privilege, joining my staff this week is a lung lady from australia. there is a program -- i don't know how many of you participate in it. if you do not, then i would urge that you give consideration to it. it's euny capital washington. brings australian students here to work with congress people. and there usually are as many as 15 of them. and i've had the good fortunate for seven years of having one of those interns. and today with me liz friendly from melbourne is one of those persons who is joining us. and she has informed me that australia has annual budgeting. and mr. schrader, i wanted to ask you, when you were commenting, you used the term at that time, when you were in the senate mr -- have they changed their budgetary process or is it still in? >> it's a modified hybrid at
this point in time. i fought going to any sort of annual sessions. i'm a fairly responsible fiscal responsible member of the oregon legislation. what they do is they solve a biennial annual budget but there is tweaking that goes on in between. i think that's fine. and that's probably the type of approach i recommend we do here. there is nothing in what mr. ribble and i are proposing that would say the proepgs committee is not meeting every single year. it is a matter of focus and where can their attention be best laid to make sure they are best getting at what's going on and not hamstringing the agencies from doing their job. >> i ask for unanimous consent to introduce the statement that occurred before the committee on budget back
include, the school of public policy testimony at that same hearing of philip joyce. >> without objection. >> thank you very much. and mr. joyce says -- he says that -- speaking to chairman price and ranking member van holidayen and members of the budget committee, thank you for inviting me to share my views on proposals to create a biennial
budget preform amendment. this is hardly biennial. in fact i've lost count going back 25 years as my analyst. additionally, mr. chairman, david leerman is the diltor of budget cq.com, and i'd ask unanimous consent to put in the record his views which don't address any bum but address the annual bumming. and the title of it without reading anything from it is impossible dream. i ask unanimous consent to include that in the -- >> without objection. >> thank you very much. >> i'd ask any of you to respond to what happens when economic, environmental, or other circumstances change dramatically from year to year.
how would agency budgets respond? and i invite either or all of you now to give me your views on that. >> that's the antithesis of good budging. ad hoc patchwork, temporary measures are the absolute opposite of what good budging is. you know, continue mr. schrader's analogy from earlier, that family that has run up an enormous debt and finally makes ends meet and goes to a credit counsellors is not going to say let's look at what you are going
to make ten years from now and let's spend it now. what that counsellor is going to say is how much are you making this month, how much are you spending and how can we try to bring those two together? you do it -- as yogi berra once said. >> with all due respect, what that credit counsel soar going to tell them is a plan to reduce their debt over a period of time. he is going to give them a budget horizon that's going to be working and meaningful to them. that's what we're talking about, setting a time horizon for the investments that aren't going to change every year. to mr. ribble's point and the ranking member's question, i think how we adjusted the va budget last year is a good example how we can change things if something comes up that's serious. >> let me ask mr. price, there
seems to be a strong desire among many members to return to -- and keep hearing it, and i think -- this is on both sides when we speak of regular order in the house or of the least to move away from so-called top-down decision making structure. would biennial budgets serve this purpose? >> no. i think they would move away from this purpose. and i stressed a couple of respects in which that would almost certainly happen. o one. mr. ribble, the mechanisms would probably remain the same but the frooegtsy of usage.
i've done a lot of reprogramming requests as ranking member on homeland security. and we are very conscientious about those things. but i would never say that's a trais transparent process. it is a regrettable adjustment sometimes that we have to make sometimes on short notice, regrettable in the sense that it's not subject to the full process that appropriations goes through. the second way this would not serve the regular order is the way it jacks the decision making up to leadership in both parties. >> mr. price, you testified that moving oversight into a second year of a buy enial budging cycle would actually degrade -- i was here five years ago: can you elaborate on congress's
abili ability? >> well, the conduct of oversight is per enial as discussed in this body as to how to make it more effective, more consequential. i agree, all the work i've ever done, as a political scientist, and once i was in the process here, appropriations is the epitome of oversight. and the main for that is it is tied to actual funding decisions. you know, we work with the house democracy partnership, with parliament aryans from all over the world. and they regularly express amazement at the potency of the power of the purse. they are in great envy, often, of the kind of leverage that the power of the purse gives the
congress to shape policy. and that's -- that's tied to the actual funding decisions that are made each year and those aren't just funding decisions. often there will be -- often there will be conditions attached to funding. you know? you are going to produce a report that is overdue or you are not going to get the money. or you're going to do, in the case of homeland security, you are going to produce a cost benefit analysis of each segment of that border fence and what the alternatives are and how this spending is justified before you spend the money, before you get the money. now, those things would be much move less frequent, less effective in a biennial setting. that's all i can same i think it would change the process in very significant and mainly negative ways. >> auto i'll make a comment mr. chairman and ranking member. >> go ahead. >> i think it's not that the
executive branch would have more power here. clearly under the cr, which i think is an abomination, they continue spending with no oversight, no ability for us in congress to change the priorities that we think need to be changed. cr is bad. that's what we're doing now. let's not pretend that we are appropriating judicially every year. four years, we've done it four times. similarly, with an omnibus, any of us get culted? ? no. that's a deal cut with the president of the united states. we give away our power every time we do an omnibus. i would suggest again that going to buy enial budging where we look at the tough issues and maybe it takes longer like has been talked about here but congress, republicans and democrats get together, make those tough decisions set those top lines so our appropriate ator friends can know what the score is two years in fans. >> thank you very much mr. ranking member. there is an enormous difference
between a cr and an omnibus. now, i would grand grant my friend's point that not every member got to participate the way mr. price and i wish they could. with a bill on the floor and ab amendment. but an omnibus, we've gone through the full committee so the bill represents the position of the house. if you think the executive branch has everything it wants under an. me bus, go compare the original budget with the budget we passed. you will find there are places where it has been plussed up beyond what he asked for and you will find there are areas where there is less money. and you will find there are restrictions where that can be used. last point. under cr we do very little favors to the executive branch. while they have a great dole of
latitude they are required and will make exceptions but we make it difficult for them to manage changing circumstances. i think cr is a two-edged sword. yeah, it diminishes congress's influences but also diminishes the executive branch the ability to manage effectively because we could never put enough anomalies in the crs to adjust for the adjustments that need to be made in the budget. >> thank you for the indulgence of time i will end. but i had so many other questions. i wanted to point to one aspect under 1610 a new president would have to ask for or present his or her budget request for the next two years within weeks of entering the white house. and he or she wouldn't get a chance to do produce another budge for two years. presidents generally haven't
provided the full detail under the existing timetable for an annual budge. and i was going to ask that you realistically think that they could do that for biennial. one other question that i will ask a response to is the budget resolution requires attention to the nondiscretionary parts of the budget. how will a shift ing to every other year help congress focus on a sustainable fiscal policy? mr. ribble you have last word from me. >> thank you mr. ranking member. on your first question, best to ask the president because he supports it as did every president since ronald reagan. to your second point, regarding oversight on nondiscretionary or mandatory spending what this is more likely to do is open up floor time that we actually can
bring thing to the floor and the congress can focus its efforts on these very things. all summer, all this summer we are going to spend every week doing appropriations and it is a very important piece of work this body does. we have 81 workdays in washington, d.c. this year. 81. that's it. and so getting to what you need to get at, you get at by opening up that congressional counter so you can do it. >> gentleman yields back. >> thank you mr. chashman. i want to say to the panel i've been in congress two years. this has been the u.s. best discussion i have heard since i've been in congress. i appreciate the qualitian all sides. let me get to my questions. mr. ribble i am a so sponsor for your bill. he so know how i feel about it. mr. hastings made an interesting proposal -- i'm not sure it was a full proposal but it was an interesting thing to consider about trying this out in some part but not in whole part.
one of the things that caused me to be a cosponsor of your bill is i'm on the armed services committee. i hear from the folks at dod all the time how difficult it is for them to do their jobs knowing one year at a time, particularly buying major weapons systems that will last several years. what about the ideas of starting with just defense on a two year cycle. see how that works? is that something that undermines completely your concept? or is it something we might talk about? >> i don't know the answer to that question. you are the first person that's brought it up. but i would defer to chairman thorn bury and maybe start by asking him the question, would you prefer a two-year authorization bill? you know, there's always this discussion about whether does the budget line up with our authorizations? it doesn't. in does in some cases where you do annual authorizations. bee juice passed a five year
highway bill, five year farm bill. we often authorize things that go beyond the budget window. but i can tell you the house armed services committee in large numbers supported this idea for the witness you articulated. particularly on the large weapons systems that you want to buy over time, that broader window certainly helps our department of defense sourcing agents to save the dollars there. >> as we go through this, since mr. hastings made that as something for us to think -- it's something for us to think about. mr. schrader you had me going right with you until you got to the end of your comment. your point was if we are doing it every two years then in the year we are not doing it the agencies are able to to do their job. there are some of us in kong that worry about what the agencies are doing when they are, quote, doing their jobs. one of the criticisms of a two year approach is that it detracts from congress's ability
to provide true oversight and control of what a lot of us think are out of control departments in the federal government. i didn't want you to have made that point and have lost me on your point without an opportunity to respond. >> thank you very much. my point -- i speak from experience. there are a lot of theories going on. think tanks about what this may or may not do. i experienced biennial budgeting in the state of oregon. i changed the budget process from one of just looking and doing the case load by how i felt about the agency to one where it was outcome based. they had certain goals, parameters they had to hit at certain times. while the budget year, when we are doing the appropriationings and budget together, it was all consuming just to get through all the agencies in a thoughtful manner like i'm sure our appropriations friends do and our budget committee negligence do when they try to do the budget. very detailed. to get into the details of the
program, to hold those agencies accountable, that was almost impossible. almost impossible to go into the programs in any degree of detail. i know we have more staff in the united states congress than we did in the great state of oregon. but to get into that level of detail and hold those agencies accountable, this outcome based budging done where you had the biennial budget and you were able in the off years as the appropriations committee or some of the budget committee to really get at how is this going? how are they using their cell phones? how is that weapons system going. let's have hearings on that? that's where my guys could get into the meat of it and really hold them accountable. if there was a problem we would provide an adjustment based on the investigations. >> dr. price?
dr. price was one of the most eminent professors at the university when i was there. and i want to point out that he was very, very very young at the time. >> you went to school only in the last threeiers. >> i didn't have this until i came to congress. you taught your students to think on both sides of the issues. sort of challenged that side. let me challenge you a lib. clearly, you would agree that what we're doing now is not working. so let me ask you if their proposal will not fix the problem we have because it's not working. what will work? >> i wish i had a neat answer four. >> you would give me an f at duke if i had said that. >> [ laughter ] >> let me tell you what i would give you at least a b for.
[ laughter ] >> what i think this discussion calls for actually and i was hoping i would have a chance to say this s a warning against overestimating the effects of any institutional sinkering that we might ever come up with. okay? and this goes back to the point about -- about the political will. i don't -- of course structures matter. rules matter. and we need to refine our structures and our rules. about i do believe that the process we're talking about, the power of the purse, which historically has been an institutional power, no matter who the president is, no matter which party is in charge -- and it's an institutional power that i think demonstrably has worked better when it's not highly partisan, when it's cooperative. when the institution presents a united front. that process is extremely difficult under conditions of
sharp polarization. okay? and that's what has made appropriations difficult for a long, long time. especially the last five years. but before that. i remember as homeland security chairman -- i remember a markup being canceled on two hour's notice because of fireworks to come in the full committee. and i -- i disagreed with that political caution that was expressed on our side of the aisle. ied. >> it, but i disagreed with it. and just to differ a bit from what my friend mr. seoul said. he's right of course that we can often agree on the numbers and the writers, the extraneous riders are the problem. but i do think with these budget resolutions we've had in recent years the numbers are also the problem. i'd say there are three years where political polarization makes the work hard. yes, the riders.
secondly, the amendments that come up with the bills. for years, bipartisan homeland security bills were rendered partisan by virtue of amendments, usually on issue of immigration and the kind of political restraint, political compromise that was required to avoid that outcome simply won't forthcoming. so these bills became partisan bills where we had worked for months -- months on a careful bipartisan basis. that's -- there are reasons -- we understand why that happens. i find it regrettable. and finally the top line numbers. the top line numbers that have been involved in these budget resolutions have simply been impossible to appropriate to. now, mr. cole is right. we've managed to move the allocati allocations, front load them and managed to get bills through committee. i think chairman rogers has done a wonderful job of that. certain number of bills have
been bipartisan, made it through the floor process. others very hard to write. we've had three years now at the end of the day to avoid a government shutdown we've had to revisit those resolutions and revise those numbers. has to are theways that political division and political polarization make our work difficult if we see our work as maintaining some kind of institutional effectiveness with respect to the executive branch, with respect to appropriations. nothing that i've said would be affected very much by the kind of institutional tinkering we're talking about here. so i -- that's what i mean when i say it's a political challenge. i'm not glib about that. i know we're going to have disagreements. we've got to welcome those disagreements. but we've also got to contain them somehow and not let them undermine the basic work of the institution. and so that's why i believe the
answer to your question is is to say that at the end day this is a political process and we've got to make your politics work better. >> thank you, sir. mr. cole? there is a rule in the house that says that we are not supposed to appropriate any money to something that's not authorized. yet we do it all the time because we waive that rule in the rule that's passed out of this committee. and then when that rule's on the floor we adopt it on the floor. now i've heard from the staff that's told us if the we do that, we lose our bargaining position with the senate. and so it's not smart for us not to waive the rule. but as an old defense lawyer, judge, i always liked bargaining from zero. and i'm wondering why it's not a good idea for us to stop waiving
that rule and force the authorizing committees -- and auto i'm on authorizing committees so i'm not pointing the finger at anybody other than myself. and force the authorizing competents to do their job. the armed services committee does its job every year. every year, we pass that national defense authorization act. we go all day and all night, into the next morning. and so i know it's hard work. and by golly it's sure not fun staying up all night. but we get it done. and maybe if we just -- on this committee said we are not going to waive it anymore and said to the rest of the people in congress, we need to quit doing this and get the authorization work done, why isn't that the way to get it done here. >> there is considerable sentiment on the committee to do exactly what you suggest. because we don't like appropriating to agencies that haven't been reauthorized.
the practical problem is simple. we haven't rehorsed spending in the state department in 40 years. do you want to shut down every department in the world. we went eight years without authorizing no child left behind, which thankfully the congress did last year in a bipartisan way. would we have stopped all federal aid to education? the appropriate ators have tried to do this. mr. simpson, when he chaired tried to do this on endangered species act to force natural resources to reauthorize that act. they couldn't get it done. there was too much contention on the committee as to what it should be. so we are 20 years down the road with a program that's never been reauthorized and a program where i've added species to but i think we've only taken one or two off. again, from an appropriate ators standpoint if you can find a way to mick it stick that would make your lives a lot easier.
but we are faced with the problem are we going to literally shut down 30, 40% of the federal government? that becomes a decision the body has to make collectively and leadership of the two parties. it is a high stakes game. >> i would observe there would be a lot of people in the united states of america that would be okay. >> until it affects them. >> there are some parts of the government that doesn't affect them. >> how many times does your office get contacted to expedite a visa or help somebody get a passport? if all of a sudden the state department is shutdown down, or in my part of the world there is a lot of drilling on federal land. if all of a sudden you couldn't get the permitting -- i just -- i agree with what you are trying to do. i think that's worthy of discussion. i just think people need to have a very clear idea of what the consequences to doing that are. and they are extreme. >> if i can interrupt you for a second i'm going to yield to mr.
polous. because he has to go down and handle a rule on the floor. >> thank you. i was anxiously watching the clock. i do have about five minutes before i have to go down there. and i appreciate the opportunity as this is a important institutional matter for this body. and i want to applaud the chair for holding this hearing. we don't get to hold many hearings in the rules committee. we have regular amendment hearings but we don't have too many for our jurisdiction. and it is a rare part of the regular order that we get to do this. nobody here of our witnesses has said what we are doing now works. i think if we look for areas of agreement here, i think we all agree that it doesn't work for individual members. it doesn't work for the country. it doesn't work for the committees of jurisdiction. there is a lot of problems with it. for that reason, i've been a strong sporter of going to the
biennial budgeting process. there are arguments on both sides. this could work, that could work. i think at the end of the say the fact is what we are doing has so dismally failed, there is a good reason to change. if they are or changes that members want to bring forward, by all means, bring them forward. some of those changes are good. some are bchltd i was thinking of asking for time briefly when dr. fox was talking to dr. cole will limiting the scope of appropriations amendments because things should go through regular order. that has been a great frustration of us as members that things don't go through regular order. and it's markups in committee are very, very rare. and the way our colorado legislature works is -- and i think to its credit -- is bills get a hearing and a markup in committee.
they fail sometimes. that's fine, too. i can't remember the last time a bill failed in committee around here. that should be a regular outcome of regular order. it failed in committee. doesn't get advanced to the floor. that's normal. let them have a markup. for majority and minority members. and the fact that you can't even get markups in committee and i've served on several committees over the years. i've served on the judiciary and the armed forces committee and. i can tell you for those who serve on committees, markup are rare in any of these committees. their more common in natural resources because there are small matters involving land matters. i don't see what the fear is. let bills that don't have the support of the committee die in committee if they don't have the support. but let them have a chance. that's the way our colorado legislature did it. i think that's the way california legislature does it. bills die in committee. that's regular order.
it's not scary. it's recall no. if fact it's so seldom if ever, how can it be that a bill never died in committee? i remember one or two being withdrawn because there was a morbid fear of them not having enough, et cetera involvement that was when democrats were the majority when that pd half. i can think of one when the republicans were in the majority as women of it is not a partisan thing. i do want to ask mr. ribble and mr. schrader that how a biannual process could better the process? >> i might refer you to -- everyone has at their desk a graphic from the washington post. we talk right now about the system that works and been very eloquent defense of an annual system. and yet over the last three years or i would say if we
actually drove it to the date of the fiber maybe even ten all that over sight that's currently happening hasn't been able to prevent federal agencies from spiking their budge by 30 billion in week 52. by going to an biannual process you are going to cut that oou use it or lose it mentality. i spend spent four years on the budget committee. rarely did they have an agency come in and defend why they wanted x number of dollars. they could do that. >> i have three minutes to get down to the floor. i have a question i want to pose to both of you. i think we all agree that the omnibus represents a failure of thissis institution to do its work. nobody has testified we should be doing things through an
omnibus. i agree. i voted against it. i think it is a terrible object row gags of our responsibility. there is measures that pass with overwhelming majorities of house members that because of some discretion that none of us even know about in some room are not in the final omnibus. there is others that we never voted on that are in there. it is a bad process for the country. not transparent. not democratic, small d, just general process. how can going to a biannual budgeting process reduce the likelihood of having to cobble together these terrible omnibuses to continue to maintain the operations of government. >> with the two year time horizon, the budget becomes a much more important document than it is right now. right now as has been pointed out by everybody here it is a
messaging document. it is an opportunity for both sides to put their slides up on the wall and talk about what it's going to do to the deficit or to the poor children that are out there in this great country of ours. if we go to a biannual budgeting process the top line numbers start to matter big time. and rather than threat president negotiate with the leadership at the end of the year when we're just about to go into default and have our poor appropriations people guess at what might be those numbers at the end of the day because they are not real whenner set by the budget committee on an annual basis. this would be more gravitas. i would hope that the way to get around executive orders, whether it's george bush or barack obama is to have a serious discussion about what those numbers should be, set 302 allocations up front so the folks, republicans and democrats say yep, this is what we agreed to over this time
horizon. let's get the job done. they work well together, bipartisan today. we heard that today. let's let them do their job and have that battle like my state does when it's doing its biannual bumming and let the appropriations process work like it's supposed to. >> in line with the discretion of regular order i want to ask the chairman if we plan plan to move to a markup of this bill in this committee in the coming weeks or months. >> they are talking about having additional hearings on this bill. and at the completion of that. >> that's the regular order. i'm proud to see that. there is too little of that. we have hearings, we become informed. this issue is not partisan. wonderful. even on partisan issues let people have their say. you will find there issent mr. of people on both sides of the aisle who have differing opinions.
that's what the committee process is for. move to hearing, move to a markup process and individual members of the committee will decide whether toness have a it on the floor. i hope they do. and this should not be the end of reforming this process. i hope that those who oppose this come up with ideas that they bring to this committee because everybody who testified agreed that it's not working institutionally or for the country right now. i agree completely. i think that would have near unanimousity through the members of this committee as well as members of the public. let's change smchlg i'm for this. and i consider others do. i appreciate the indulgence here on the time as i have other responsibility as a member of this committee to attend to. and i yield back. >> thank you mr. shareman, if i can go back and finish up, i have one more question but i want to make comments about what mr. cole said.
the endangered species act, people in my district would like for that not be refunded. because there is a plan to declare endangered the eastern diamond back rattle snake, which is not endangered. but if it's declared to be so it would have an enorm u.s.ly detrimental effect on a number of industries. my second comment is this. it's different from bog in congress but not different in terms of human behavior. i spent over 30 years as a litigator. and when we had cases in state court, where we didn't have good firm rules, and sometimes judges didn't want to stand on them cases would go on forever because lawyers would just go until you give them a deadline. when we were in federal court, the federal judges had very hard and fast rules, they enforced them and by golly a case that would take two or three years in state court would get done in a year or less in federal court because wephoresed it on people.
you hear lawyers saying i can't get my case done, that same lawyer in federal court would get his job done because he had to. human building behavior being what it is, you give us deadlines, hold us to our deadlines we'll do our job. and we need to do our job. just two oengss, last question -- do you want to respond to that? >> quick low. i couldn't agree more. i saw this in state legislature in oklahoma. we shortened the session, firm start, firm in. couldn't go on past the end of may and gosh, guess what, we passed just as many laws and all the work got done. i agree with. that all i'm saying is that's not a decision you want the appropriations committee to make unless you tell us to make it. if you want to do that, that is great. i mean, again, it sure makes it a lot easier if we are going to appropriate to what's been authorized. that makes our job easier. again, all i'm saying is you are
going to have to tell all the members, okay, this is what we're going to do now going forward. >> i think that would have to be settled. >> everybody would have to know at the beginning of the year, hey, this is what is going to happen, authorizers get the job done and appropriators don't appropriate it unless it's been authorized. last question, i'm holding up my friends mr. knew house here. mr. mcclintock, a lot of us think to some extent we are rearranging the chairs in the titanic because if we don't do anything about entitlement spending there won't be anything left to appropriate for defense, for natural resources, anything. is there some way we can do something with the budgeting and appropriations process that would address that and the budget that we passed this year we addressed entitlements. in the omnibus that was passed from december, we did not, because we don't appropriate entitlements. what can we do to get control
over entitlement spending using the budget process, the appropriations process, something that's involved? >> as you know, the overall architecture for both the mandatory and discretionary spending is set by the budge, not by the appropriations bills. appropriations bills deal with the discretionary side only. the reconciliation instructions then are necessary in order to produce the legislation to fit all of the spending, mandatory and discretionary within the parameters set by the budget. so going from a one year to a two year process literally cuts in half our opportunities to address these issues. ultimately, this is a human process, as you've just pointed out. and it only works in concert with our own human nature. we have discussed a great deal about the importance of returning to regular order. we've discussed a great deal about the importance of deadlines and actually producing
results. isn't this a warning to all of us that the problem with our budget process is not its annual nature but rather a number of other issues that desperately need to be addressed? mr. ribble mentioned one in particular, the importance of staying together and talking to one another when we miss a deadline. we're human beings. we can't resolve our differences if we're not talking to each other. and if you keep us here long enough, eventually we will resolve those differences. when we scatter to the four winds, we can't. but might be working very hard but we are not working on resolving the impasses that develop. this brings me to the principle concern of the budget committee. that is we are absolutely concerned to bringing a full reform package to the floor this year. we are very concerned that a patchwork approach to this problem will send all of us away
saying okay we've dealt with that we'll go on to other things when the principle problems remain unaddressed. and the fact we have spent so much time today not talking about the annual -- the nature of the budget process but a whole bunch of other factors should be a warning to us that that's what we need to address. >> i thank all of you. let me make one final observation quoting my favorite political philosopher, jesus of nazareth. he said, where your treasure is, so your heart be also. we have a piece of the treasure in the people of the united states. i hope we all know we don't have all of it. and they get to spend what we don't need. and there is a lot that we don't need they should be spending. but the part of the treasure we have should follow the heart of the people of the united states. i fear we have fallen into a trap of letting bureaucracies and agencies and departments and the federal government work their will and not the will of
the people. and i hope we'll come up with some process that will address that. with that i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. gentleman from washington. >> thank you mr. chairman. and after quoting jesus, i'm not sure i -- have the ability to proceed. but i do appreciate the -- obviously, the committee hearing on this very important subject. i would think if i took a poll of people in my district they would think this ranks right up there as one of the most important subjects that we as congress can deal with. i would agree with judge hastings. i'm open to this idea. i think the record will show i am a cosponsor of the bill. i come from the state of washington. i'm just like mr. schrader. i'm a product of a biennial budget system. we did not have the option of continuing resolutions in the state of washington. i don't know if any state does. we stayed in town until we got the job done. sometimes we were in olympia
until july when we should have been out of there in the spring. so it can be done. i do share some reservations that have been expressed today. there have been great points in much of the testimony that i've heard on both sides. and so i appreciate that very much. and i agreed with some of the comments made that this is the kind of work in a needs to be done in committees in order to get down into the meat of the issues. and so appreciate you guys doing that today. i will say, being from a state that has a biennial budget process, frankly, i think that system is kind of morphed into an annual process, to tell you the truth. we spend almost as much time on a supplemental budget year as we do in the year that we write the budget. and so i'm not sure what that says about the future of our process in my state. but that's the reality.
with the difficulties of running governments these days, it takes a lot more time than it used. to and so the immensity of the federal government certainly falls into that category and we don't get all of the benefits that i've heard talked about, i don't think. i used to run a state agency. and i heard you mention, mr. ribble, the use it or lose it mentality. it's still there, even in a two-year budget cycle. i hate to tell you. it doesn't go away completely. having aid all those things, and this has been a very, very productive conversation. just a couple questions. i don't have one for each of you, but if you want to contribute to an answer i'd certain appreciate hearing from any and all of you. for the sponsors of the bill, looking through the materials we have, apparently we have a timetable, a budget timetable that we're supposed to adhere
to. and i suppose there are some penalties for not but i'm not sure what they are because we don't seem to adhere to it very closely. and i don't know if it's specifically in the legislation, but does that timetable change? and if it doesn't -- or even if it does, you know, a rule of government i was told a long time ago that be careful what you -- what space you provide government because it will grow into the space it's provided. so if we allow a two-year window, even though we have a timetable that is set, two-year endeavor. >> the timetable stays pretty much the same as it is now, absent an enforcement trigger for the work to get done --
believe me in my time here i've led the charge on trying to force congress to do its work. certainly didn't mean to offend the vice chair of the committee when i talked about the calendar. i wasn't proposing that we never go home. in fact, we are home one week every single month and this year we will be home all of august and all of october. but absent an enforcement trigger you may not get a solution. this idea is not a panacea. i've never claimed it to be. but i do believe that this would be a quantum leap forward. as do others. she mentioned there is opposition to the bill. yes, and they are in the minority now of the house of representatives. outside groups, the bill in its current form is supported by americans for tax reform, the bipartisan policy center, the concord coalition, the council for citizens against government waste, the national taxpayers union, no labels, and the third
way. and mr. chairman, with permission i'd like to submit their letters to the record. >> without objection. >> thank you mr. chairman. and so -- but to address your specific question is there a timetable, until we're willing to dual ll ll lly -- actually d work i don't know that any step by step is going to change that. >> you know, my state, in my district, as a matter of fact, we had a tremendously difficult last couple of years as it results to wildfires. and so i know there are provisions in state government to deal with emergencies. and certainly an annual appropriations process we can -- we're very nimble, at least theoretically here in federal government to be able to do that. would a biennial budget process
here in congress be as nimble, be able to respond to emergencies to different -- >> i'd say given the wildfires your state, my state and most of the west deal with, we currently have annual budgeting and it's not being dealt with. so flip the question around. the annual budging is not the panacea for dealing with disasters and problems. we've seen that out west. we're discriminated against regularly for the greatest natural disaster that happens out west. you can get money for hurricanes and flooding but nothing permanently for the devastation that goes on with wildfires. it is a travesty in this country and a shame that we can't get that done. i don't think annual budgeting is frankly a better way to get at dealing with these disaster than any other process. i think what we are dealing with the to be top line numbers, they
get to go and deal with this in a much more thoughtful way and perhaps we can come up with a way to deal with disasters and supplemental needs. i don't see an annual budge dealing with it any better. >> i think later today we're -- a body to send a reconciliation bill to the president of the united states maybe for the folks on the con side of this argument. do you think that this would change that reconciliation process in any way for the better or worse if we were passing what's being proposed today? >> it would reduce by half the
opportunities for reconciliation, for that aspect of the -- >> just a simple -- >> well, yes. but there, too, the fact that we have annual budget resolutions and that we have available to us reconciliation processes doesn't mean that we necessarily use it well. the -- a number of people have alluded today to the larger challenges that face us in terms of entitlement spending and tax expenditures. those are the real drivers of the deficit. and the reconciliation bill is hypothetically the way we address those things. it's the way we did address them back in the '90s when we actually balanced the budget. it wasn't much fun. it was difficult, the political fallout was intense. people didn't like having everything on the table. but four years ever ball anned
budget, paying off $100 billion of the national debt, speaks for itself, i think. so the reconciliation side of this, the authorization side of this with respect to taxes and sbilgments is absolutely critical to securing our fiscal future. so i don't think it's particularly desirable to cut the opportunities for that in half. but whether you have the new system or the present system, the proposed system or the present system, it's still going to take a great deal of political will to utilize it. >> mr. ribble? >> i would like to just say, sir, that i have had several conversations with mr. price of georgia, chairman of the budget committee asking what my take would be if they -- the budge committee amended a bill in markup to do an annual reconciliation as opposed to a biian annual. i had no objection to it. >> isn't that a test of admission that addressing these issues annually is better than
delaying them for two years? time's is not our friends. our interest cost are eating our government alive. within eight years those interest costs will exceed our entire defense budget. we have got to be addressing these issues constantly. and the most important point raised on this is what doctor price said about the fact that these deadlines are what drive oversight. when we do the annual appropriations process, we are constantly asking the questions of how this money is being spend and you know, how we can bring these expenditures back into balance. that is a very important thing that will be cast aside with the two-year budget cycle. we're told, well, this will give more time for hearings. we have a lot of hearings now. 767 oversight hearings by authorizing committees last year. 99 appropriations subcommittee hearings last year, all asking these questions.
what this will do, it means instead of these questions being asked every year, they would be asked every two years and we don't have this kind of time. >> yet no one at the table argued for a six month budge or quarterly budget or nine month budget to increase it. there is nothing magical about one year. one of the consideration is to remove that political consideration during an election year that has been barring us from getting budgets at all during election years. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate the discussion today. like i said, i think this is a very, very important issue that we need to address. i think having so many sponsors on the bill speaks as much to the tenets of the bill, also to the frustration that is very prevalent from both sides of the aisle. being a freshman, it is amazing
to me we can't get our budge down. the revelation that the senate hasn't had a budget in how many years? it's just something that rightfully so the american people are having a hard time understanding as well. so efforts to fix the problem, i applaud people for bringing ideas up. and like i said, this is a very important discussion to have. dr. cole? >> one comment, after my friend's thoughtful remarks. and this is just my opinion. but i don't think the root of the problem is the process. i really don't. i think this really gets down to -- as madam fox said, ms. fox said, a question of political will. and let's ta the reconciliation bill we are going to vote on later today. i support that bill. i strongly support it lt. support the appeal of obama care, support the defunding of
planned parenthood. on the other hand that bill is going to go to the president's desk and going to get vetoed. you have taken a budgeting tool and made it into a political messaging tool, really. if you really wanted to get something done, you would have had some sort of talks and tried to get something to the president's desk that he might sign. some measure of entitlement reform. i would have recommended let's take the entitlement reform he proposed himself. two years ago he had both means testing for medicare. i'm trying to remember the other. cpi. why not put those on his desk? he might well veto them because i think his positions have changed. so that, to me, speaks to what our mind-set is here. and that is where we all have to look in to ourselves. because i can make the same point on either side. but i'm going to make it on my side. if you want to make a point, then this is a perfectly good point to do it. if you want to deal with the
budget realities and the problems you would have taken something that had a chance. and frankly i would have argued it is a far better point to make that you propose these two things, we put them on your desk and you are going to veto them because you didn't get something else you wanted even though you said you were for these things. that's a real political dilemma to put somebody in. sending something to the president called obama care means you are going to get a veto. how are you going to repeal obama care when a guy named obama is president of the united states unless you have overwhelming majorities that we don't have. nothing against looking at the processes. and mr. ribble is one of the most thoughtful members we have here. and i particularly like his suggestion which he has made about the date and making sure that we stay here and spend august in lovely washington, d.c. it would do wonders in moving those appropriations bills across the floor. but -- so i think there is a lot
of these process ideas, and particularly deadline ideas that do work and we're thinking about. again, i hope we use this not just to talk about it but to reflect a little bit on how we little bit on the budget process on both sides of the aisle and whether or not we want to fund the government, which is what it's basically about, or weather we want to score political points. deal with entitlement funding or whether we don't. those bills somehow never make it to the floor. at least appropriations bills go to the committee. i've been here 13 years. i haven't seen a social security reform bill on the floor other than social security disability we voted on in the omnibus or budget act, excuse me. so, again, that's the real message here. we've got to approach legislating a lot dimptly as opposed to thinking we're going to make a systemic change.
i think all the problems that bedevil the system will bedevil the one we have. i think there are some other unintended consequences that will go here in terms of loss of oversight and institutional power by simply elongating the time. any way. i thank my friend for allowing me -- >> again, compliment to all of you for making good arguments on both sides o f the issue. i think it's a very important discussion. thank you for having this hearing and yield back. >> thank you for being here. it's a substantial commitment of our time and i appreciate that. you've got sitting behind you, three students from emory. if you're ever going to have young people who are counting on us to get this right, come to hearing. it's kind of a serious bipartisan search for solutions. i appreciate the encouragement and i know they do as well.
featured programs this weekend on american history tv on cspan 3. next tuesday, president obama will deliver his last state of the union address to a joint session of congress. this saturday and sunday, beginning at 1:00 p.m. eastern, we'll feature four state of the union speeches by former presidents during their last year in office. on saturday, president carter and president reagan and sunday, president george h.w. bush's final state of the union followed by president bill clinton. also, saturday morning at 10:30, lin-manuel miranda accepts the george washington book prize and sunday morning at 10:00 on road to the white house rewind, we'll look back to the 1984 presidential campaign and a debate between eight democratic candidates in iowa. >> with whom we elect to replace that man has to have the trust and confidence of the american people and it has to be on matters spoken in public and in private. private promises and public
statements for the american people being the same and it has to be for all our people. >> for our complete weekend schedule, go to cspan.org. earlier this week, journalists and former voice of america director, david ensor discussed the state of international broadcasting and how washington can win the so-called information war against russia, china, islamic state and over rivals. this is an hour. >> we are honored and pleased to have someone also known to almost everyone in this room. which is -- someone known to everyone in this room, david ensor. former director of the voice of america. he's had an extraordinary career at npr and abc news before voa.
since voa, he's been at harvard on a fellowship where he developed a report, which you see here on a harvard website and he's going to bring us a summary of it today. the floor is yours. >> your question, will the mike be loud enough? if anyone doesn't hear me, if anyone doesn't hear me, please let me know because i will speak louder. i can do that. used to do it for a living. it's nice to be here today and thank you very much for coming out. my print colleagues used to complain about the newspaper headline writers who would exaggerate the contents of their articles and create an attention grabbing headline. i'm afraid the title of this talk frankly be in that category.
it's the headline given to an article i recently published based on this paper and it makes a promise of more wisdom than i probably think than anyone of news the room has actually and certainly more than i have. but at least maybe it helped convince you to come here today. so perhaps it achieved its purpose. also, the headline writer chose the term, information war. my friend, dean of the tufts fletcher school says, has said he thinks the war of ideas is as flawed a concept as a war on drugs. in practice, he says we need a marketplace of ideas which presents positive alternatives and not just the negative side of radical islam. he's right, of course. so, i don't have all the answers as to how washington can win the information war or prevail if you prefer in the marketplace of ideas, but i would like today to offer you some thoughts on a road forward from the perspective of someone who is as was mentioned, honored to have
led the voice of america for four years, to have worked in public diplomacy in afghanistan and before that, the embassy and who served the nation as a broadcast journalist before that. for starters, we need to face facts. we will not to well enough in this arena until we take it more seriously. it's clear from our recent history in iraq, afghanistan and elsewhere, that america cannot prevail globally with hard power alone. but the nation's capacity to participate meaningfully has been allowed to decline in recent year, even as the information challenges we face grow and change. in a world where putin weaponizes information and where terrorists recruit on the internet, the united states has no one in charge of its information efforts. it has cut the budget for
diplomacy and also spending in real terms on exporting honest journalism. when the u.s. information agency was disband ed as a peace dividend at the end of the cold war, public diplomacy efforts were moved to the state department across the street, and international broadcasting was put under a bipartisan board. start with the advocacy side, public diplomacy side first. since 1999 when this happened, it has suffered quite frankly, from weak budgets and excessive leadership turnover. understandably, but perhaps unfortunately, public diplomacy tends not to be valued at the department as highly as conventional diplomacy. frankly in the digital age, i think the way of thinking is out of date. in recent week, both president obama and hillary clinton, the democratic candidate and former secretary of state, have called for american additional technology companies to help the government prevent terrorists
from using social media and the internet to prop began ta and recruit. there's a whole post snowden debate and encryption tools, what's the proper place for our country on the scale, but security and privacy, that's a big, complex topic and not the subject of my talk today, but i simply mention it as front burner issue to underscore the nation's need for full time sustained leadership in the area of information. there's a countermessaging aspect of this, too. the state department has a a.8 million effort to counter isis recruiting online. the work's critically important, burr frankly, the effort is mush too small. so, it may be just as well that in the upcoming kefs authorization bill, the pentagon is giving permission to launch a bigger effort of its own. going forward, maintaining
civilian control and high level coordination will be key as will strong partnerships with our allies in the region. and in fact, i believe the actual efforts on website chat rooms and social media, should only be done by our partners in the region and not by washington. of course, there's much more to public diplomacy than just countererring isis on the internet. wup one of the most effective efforts in afghanistan was our effort to strengthen the afghan media. it was highly successful. we and ohs including the british government did a lot to make the media sector in afghanistan vibrant, strong, meaningful for the country. but that sector along with others faces some new challenges as the taliban takes back territory and as investment from overseas is reduced. it's going to need some