Last week Jonathan Allen at Politico reported that the Democrats in Congress might not pass a budget resolution this year. “Indeed, some Democratic insiders suspect that leaders will skip the budget process altogether this year — a way to avoid the political unpleasantness of voting on spending, deficits and taxes in an election year — or simply go through a few of the motions, without any real effort to complete the work,” Allen wrote. “If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process.”
House Republicans aren’t thrilled, and Rep. Scott Garrett (R., N.J.) is currently gathering signatures on a letter he plans to send to Speaker Pelosi, urging her to submit a budget resolution to a vote. National Review Online has obtained a draft:
Dear Speaker Pelosi,
As Americans scramble to meet today’s tax filing deadline, the Democratic Congress will miss its own deadline for one of the most basic acts of governing: passing a budget resolution. Worse, recent press reports have indicated that the House of Representatives may not consider a budget resolution this year. If true, this would be the first time since the passage of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that the House would fail to craft a budget. We believe that this would set a terrible precedent, and we strongly urge you to reject these reports and encourage the House to consider a budget resolution later this year.
While we may disagree on a number of issues, one issue we can all agree on is that our nation’s long-term fiscal outlook is unsustainable. The gap between revenues and expenditures, already large by historical standards, is only going to become larger over time. The longer Congress waits to deal with this fiscal imbalance, the more difficult the choices become to solve this problem. The time to start making decisions about our long term deficit is not some time in the distant future, but now.
The purpose of the Congressional budget is to create enforceable parameters within which Congress can consider legislation dealing with spending and revenue. In the absence of a budget, there would be virtually no procedural enforcement mechanism to constrain spending in either the House or the Senate. Especially in an election year, this would be an open invitation for Congress to increase spending to unprecedented levels.
In the current environment, prudent fiscal discipline is more important than ever. As we have seen in countries such as Greece, failure to adopt sensible spending restraint can have catastrophic implications.
Our two parties may have different perspectives about the appropriate levels of spending, taxation and debt, but surely this is a debate that we should have. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we urge you to do all within your power to ensure that the House of Representatives exercise its responsibility to the American taxpayer, and consider a budget this year.
Signatories should include Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan and minority whip Eric Cantor, among others.