Sen. Joni Ernst shows leadership

Iowan joins with other senators to improve appropriation process

Passing a budget and the appropriations bills to fund the U.S. government are among the most important functions of the U.S. Congress. Anyone who has been paying even casual attention realizes, however, that getting that vital work done on time and in an orderly fashion almost never happens.

Since 1995, the Congress has never been able to pass all 12 appropriation bills needed to fund the government on time — by Sept. 30. That means that at the start of each federal fiscal year (Oct. 1) since 1995 Congress hadn’t decided how much money was to be allocated for major parts of the federal government. Typically, temporary funding measures were passed to allow the government to continue to function at the previous year’s spending levels while deliberations continued well into the next fiscal year. This year is typical. As of Sept. 30, only five of the 12 appropriations bills had been passed.

This terrible performance has motivated Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and two of her colleagues (Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and James Lankford, R-Okla.) to propose major changes in the funding process. The three Republicans say the changes would make it more likely that future Congresses would get appropriation bills passed on time. They are proposing amendments to the process that would set milestones for passing a budget and appropriations bills. The goal is to keep the Congress on track throughout the year rather than deferring crucial decisions to the final days of the fiscal year – or even later. The recommendations will be considered by the bicameral, bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Ernst, Lankford and Perdue are members of that committee.

“The most essential role Congress has is to raise revenue and fund the federal government,” Ernst said in a statement announcing that she was partnering with Perdue and Lankford to advance these recommendations. “Yet, since 1974, Congress has passed all of its appropriations bills just four times. And, in the past 20 years, we have only passed a budget resolution 11 times! Congress can do better; we owe it to the American people to complete our work on time. If we fail to meet our deadlines, we should stay at work until we get the job done.”

The Messenger strongly agrees.

In the real world, businesses and other organizations are expected to develop budgets and make spending decisions in an orderly fashion. Failing to get the work done on time just isn’t tolerated. The same should be true for Congress.

In her new role as part of the Republican leadership in the Senate for the 116th Congress (as vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference) Ernst is well-positioned to champion these important reforms. We commend her for joining in this effort. Ernst is making her presence felt in the Senate. That is good for Iowa and for the nation.

COMMENTS