In a letter to Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Cantor, House Democratic Leader Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Hoyer, Republican Conference Chair Hensarling and Democratic Caucus Chair Larson, the Fix Congress Now Caucus (FCNC) suggested changes to existing House rules regarding the federal budget process for the 113th Congress.
"Record level deficit spending is undermining America's economic recovery and threatening our future prosperity. Since Congress last passed a budget in 2009, the government has racked up $5 trillion in new debt. Washington cannot continue with business as usual -- punting on its responsibilities and mortgaging our nation's future. Reforming the budget process is a critical part of getting our fiscal house in order and putting our country on a path to a balanced budget," said Congressman Diane Black (TN-6), a Republican member of the FCNC.
"We are a nation at risk, and in this time of economic uncertainty Congress must complete the work that the American people sent us here to do: govern," said Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2), a Republican co-founder of the FCNC. "By reforming the federal budget process to include the suggestions listed by the FCNC, we'll be improving our legislative effectiveness and moving forward to fix this institution," added Rigell.
"One small change to House rules could yield big results. It's unacceptable that Congress hasn't passed a budget on time in years. This is no way to run a superpower," said Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5), one of the Democrat co-founders.
Specifically, the FCNC recommends that the House require a three-fifths vote to waive the Budget Act points of order before adjournment to align the House with Senate rules. This ensures that Congress does not adjourn as a governing body until its budgetary work is done. The FCNC also suggests that committee hearings be held to study a proposal for the budget to become a bill, signed into law, rather than a concurrent resolution, and advises that the budget be restructured from annual to biennial.
"Absent a long-term budget plan, our country continues to run record deficits putting our nation's fragile economic recovery at risk and eliminating certainty for American businesses," said Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5) one of the Democrat co-founders. "It is time we take on bold budgetary reforms to get our spending under control, bolster American investment and job growth and put our country back on a path of fiscal sustainability."
The mission of the FCNC is to:
Improve the tone and civility of our debates;
Reduce committee structure complexity;
Reform the congressional benefit system to be more in line with the private sector; and
Improve the budget process to ensure an annual federal budget is passed by Congress.
Currently, the FCNC is moving forward two initiatives. First, HR 3643, the "No Budget, No Pay" Act, which states that in order for Members to receive compensation they must pass both a budget and all 12 appropriations bills. Second, a "Govern Before Going Home" policy, which states that before Members can leave for August recess they must pass a budget and all 12 appropriations bills.
The FCNC was officially launched on May 16, 2012 by co-chairs Congressmen Scott Rigell (R-VA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Reid Ribble (R-WI), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). The other Members of Congress making up the inaugural class of the caucus include Congressmen Joe Walsh (R-IL), John Barrow (D-GA), Jeff Landry (R-LA), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Bobby Schilling (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Diane Black (R-TN), and Bill Flores (R-TX).