Representative Rouda Introduces Fiscal Responsibility & Long-Term Economic Security Act
While short-term borrowing and large deficits are necessary to fight the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, policymakers will need to address our unsustainable fiscal situation once the country recovers. To that end, Representative Harley Rouda (D-CA) recently introduced the Fiscal Responsibility and Long-Term Economic Security Act that would establish a Joint Select Committee (JSC) to review the federal government’s fiscal imbalance through the lens of projected revenue, spending, and the overall current and long-term financial conditions of the United States. The bill is the latest in a series aimed at restoring fiscal solvency – including the Sustainable Budget Act and the TRUST Act – that have been introduced in recent months.
The Fiscal Responsibility and Long-Term Economic Security Act would task a new Joint Select Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Long-Term Economic Security with identifying major contributing factors to our long-term fiscal imbalance, analyzing potential courses of action to address those factors, and providing recommendations to significantly improve the nation's fiscal outlook. The new committee would be composed of eight Senate appointees and eight House appointees, with four Democrats and four Republicans from each chamber. In addition, two bipartisan appointees would be designated as co-chairs by leaders of both parties in the House and Senate.
No later than 18 months after enactment of the bill, the new JSC would vote on a final report detailing the committee's findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The report would also detail the assumptions made by the committee in formulating its findings, any alternative recommendations that were considered, and legislation proposed to carry out the JSC's recommendations. At least 10 of the JSC’s 16 members – including at least five Republicans and five Democrats – must approve the final report for it to pass. The report and related legislation must be submitted to the Speaker of the House and the Majority and Minority Leaders of the House and Senate within seven days of approval. The report would be made publicly available regardless of whether or not it is approved by the JSC. If approved, the JSC's recommendations would receive fast-track consideration in both chambers of Congress.
While the current crisis warrants massive deficit spending to provide much-needed economic relief, Representative Rouda deserves praise for his forward-thinking consideration of the country's long-term fiscal health. In addition to this bill, he was one of 60 Members to sign a recent bipartisan letter to House leadership urging that processes be included in the next emergency relief package to set the stage for future budget reforms.
Our unsustainable fiscal situation is only projected to deteriorate further over the coming years, and providing a process for lawmakers to address it is a start to fixing the problem. To read more about other budget process reform ideas and proposals, see our Better Budget Process Initiative.