Bipartisan Budget Commission Proposed

Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and ranking Republican Judd Gregg (R-NH) today introduced legislation to create an 18 member bipartisan commission whose recommendations for confronting the long-term debt crisis would be voted on by Congress. The Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action would review all facets of the federal government’s finances, including taxes, and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.

Sixteen commission members, split evenly between parties, would be drawn from Congress. The Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, and House and Senate minority leaders would each choose four commissioners.

The Secretary of the Treasury and one other Administration official would represent the White House. The President, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority Leader would choose one of the task force’s co-chairs. The other would be selected by both the House and Senate minority leaders.

Agreement between 14 of the 18 members would send the task force’s recommendations to Congress after next year’s midterm elections. Fast-track consideration would prohibit amendments and passage would require a supermajority in both houses.

Some Senators have said they will not vote to increase the debt limit without a vote on some mechanism, like this proposal, to reduce the debt. Others, however, do not like the idea of circumscribing the normal legislative process, even though that process has yet to produce real solutions. The bill boasts 25 original co-sponsors in addition to Conrad and Gregg.

CRFB supports a bipartisan mechanism for addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges and commends Senators Conrad and Gregg on their efforts to promote fiscal responsibility through a bipartisan commission. The United States cannot afford to ignore its budget problems. Any process that helps politicians overcome partisan gridlock should be applauded.