Kinzinger and Phillips Call for a Bipartisan Commission to Address the Deficit

Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Dean Phillips (D-MN) recently introduced a joint resolution to establish a National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

The commission would aim to reduce the deficit by $3.25 trillion over the next ten years, with a secondary goal of achieving primary balance (balance excluding interest) by 2031. The committee’s twelve members would include three members from each of the four congressional party caucuses or conferences. Eight of the twelve members would need to support the commission’s proposals for fast-track procedures to apply, which would limit amendments and debate on the proposal in both chambers. Although the Kinzinger-Phillips proposal would not include presidential appointees, the Biden Administration’s support and involvement could play a role in the commission's success.

Rep. Kinzinger said in a statement, “As we emerge from the hardships of the coronavirus, we must take a look at the state of our economy—and take a responsible and bipartisan approach to reduce spending and reinstate fiscal responsibility in Congress.” Rep. Phillips said that “by facilitating bipartisan cooperation and principled problem-solving, this legislation will help address our historic national debt and get our country back on track.”

The original National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was a presidential commission established by President Obama in 2010. President Obama and Congressional leaders appointed 18 commissioners, evenly divided by party, and Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles served as co-chairs. The majority of commissioners supported the final recommendations, but they did not have the necessary supermajority to transmit the proposal to Congress.

We are encouraged by the continued interest from Congress in addressing our unsustainable budget outlook. This proposal joins the TRUST Act and the Sustainable Budget Act in calling for a commission approach to address fiscal issues. As CRFB president Maya MacGuineas said in a statement:

Once the pandemic recedes and the economy recovers, Congress and the President will have to pivot to reining in record levels of debt. We commend Representatives Kinzinger and Phillips for demonstrating leadership on this issue and introducing the National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Act of 2021. The resolution would establish a bipartisan, bicameral commission to facilitate negotiations for putting the federal budget on a more sustainable track. We appreciate this practical legislation to advance bipartisan solutions to our national challenges. The idea of not letting our national debt continue on an unsustainable path should be something all lawmakers should be able to support.