Timely Convergence Building a Better Budget Process Project Proposals Create Stir on Capitol Hill

Release of the Convergence Building a Better Budget Process project (B3P) proposals on February 26 generated immediate media attention and interest on Capitol Hill. Presented at the first ever Federal Budget Process Reform Summit sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the proposals offer practical, politically realistic recommendations to improve the process Congress uses to manage the $4 trillion annual federal budget. B3P project participants reflect a wide set of ideologies and interests that are deeply affected by the budget decisions Congress makes each year.

The B3P recommendations were center stage at the Summit, which was covered by C-SPAN. Other articles include Politico, CQ Government Executive, as well as an op ed in The Hill. Susan Willie, director of the B3P project, facilitated the lead panel that explained the principles, proposals and political feasibility of the B3P report. Panelists included Neil Bradley from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Emily Holubowich from the Coalition for Health Funding and Matt Owens from the Association of American Universities, all signatories to the final agreement.

The panelists shared their vision for budget process reform, highlighting the significant financial and political costs of the way Congress currently operates. They reviewed a list of principles that a new process should encompass and proposals for process reform, including: a Budget Action Plan designed to make key fiscal decisions at the beginning of each Congress; a Fiscal State of the Nation Report published every four years to explain the country’s financial picture; and periodic reviews to better understand the long-term effects of budget decisions.

The Summit also featured a panel of budget experts, including Convergence board member and project participant Stuart Butler of the Brookings Institution, as well as a conversation with Senate Budget Committee members David Perdue and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Days before the Summit, Congress reached a budget agreement that mandated the creation of a Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform to investigate and propose changes to the broken budget process by November 2018. “We believe that the creation of this Committee creates an important window of opportunity for reform and we are gratified at the widespread interest our proposals are attracting on the Hill”, said Convergence President Rob Fersh. B3P staff members Susan Willie and Mike Veselik, along with politically diverse B3P stakeholders, have already briefed several Joint Select Committee members and will continue to share their recommendations with members of Congress as well as other key leaders.

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and a member of the B3P group, noted as the report was released, “The Convergence process, which brings together diverse stakeholders from across the ideological spectrum to negotiate and solve pressing problems, offers policymakers much to learn from and emulate. I hope Congress will look to these recommendations as an example of what can be accomplished in the months ahead.”