Burchett and Case Reintroduce RAFT Act

Establishing fiscal goals, including debt targets, is one proactive way to begin to tackle our nation's unsustainable fiscal situation. Legislation introduced by Representatives Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Ed Case (D-HI) would amend the congressional budget process by including debt-to-GDP goals in budget resolutions and putting processes in place to meet these new targets.

H.R. 915, the Reforming America's Fiscal Toolkit (RAFT) Act of 2021 would establish two ways for a budget resolution to facilitate action on achieving its fiscal targets: reconciliation-like instructions to authorizing committees that would recommend savings to meet debt targets, or the establishment of a new Joint Select Committee on Fiscal Responsibility (JSC).

Under the first option, reconciliation-like instructions to authorizing committees would propose and put forward savings to meet the debt-to-GDP targets in the budget resolution. Authorizing committees would choose the particular policies to achieve the required levels of savings. The budget committees would then report the combined bill, and the House and Senate would consider the legislation under expedited procedures that would require only a simple majority for passage in both chambers.

The alternative option would establish a bicameral and bipartisan Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Fiscal Responsibility to agree to a comprehensive set of savings to achieve the debt-to-GDP targets set in the budget resolution. The JSC would consist of 16 members, divided evenly by chamber and party. If the majority of members of each party in the JSC agreed to the recommendations, they would be considered under expedited procedures in the House and Senate (though the Senate's 60-vote threshold to end debate on the measure would not change). This JSC would also function as a backstop if the standing committees failed to achieve debt targets.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget president Maya MacGuineas praised the reintroduction of the RAFT Act:

As we recover from the pandemic, healing should include rebuilding the ability to confront new emergencies. Representatives Burchett (R-TN) and Case (D-HI) are again proposing a smart framework to pursue budget goals with the Reforming America’s Fiscal Toolkit (RAFT) Act. The bill would add debt-to-GDP targets to the budget resolution and create new paths to meet those goals. We applaud these efforts and encourage others to support the RAFT Act.

The RAFT Act of 2021 follows other recent proposals to reform our nation's broken budget process and address our long-term debt situation. In addition to a 2019 iteration of the RAFT Act, Representatives Case and Womack (R-AR) recently reintroduced the Sustainable Budget Act, and 71 Senators recently voted in favor of Senator Romney's (R-UT) amendment to the FY2021 budget resolution, cosponsored by 11 Senators in both parties, in support of the TRUST Act.

Representatives Burchett and Case should be commended for highlighting the urgency around fixing the nation's finances and helping the budget set a sustainable goal for our large and growing national debt. Reforming the process alone won't fix the issue, but it will amplify the message and provide lawmakers with a path to make the tough decisions necessary to raise sufficient revenue, reduce the cost of entitlement programs, and cut low-priority spending.

Read more about other budget process reform ideas and proposals in our Better Budget Process Initiative


Note: This blog is a slight adaptation of our previous blog: " Burchett, Case, and Womack Introduce RAFT Act."