John Thune

Second, I am proposing serious reforms to our flawed budget process. As things stand now, the budget is not binding, which means Congress can spend more than they budgeted. My plan would add teeth to the budget by making it a binding resolution that the president would have to sign into law.

My bill would also change this broken system by requiring Congress to pass a two year budget. This would allow Congress to set spending priorities the year after an election and focus on oversight and finding savings during the year leading up to an election. This would fundamentally change the way Washington works because members would begin to campaign on the amount of federal dollars they saved rather than how much they secured and spent for their state or district.

Third, in order to make sure spending cuts are not just a one-time deal, my bill would establish a permanent, bipartisan joint committee of Congress for Budget Deficit Reduction with the sole responsibility of cutting the deficit. This bipartisan committee would be required to introduce legislation to eliminate spending and cut the previous year’s deficit by at least 10 percent, without raising taxes on the American people.

Today, Congress has 26 committees and subcommittees drumming up new ways to spend money. We ought to have at least one committee devoted to finding ways to save money. This would not be yet another instance of passing the buck to a special commission with no authority as we saw with the president’s latest budget commission. This joint committee would consist of members of Congress, from both the House and Senate, and both parties. Congress could finally begin to make the tough choices so desperately needed.

No reform, including my plan, will work overnight to get us back to where we should be. But it is a good first step toward changing the way Washington works by imposing common sense solutions that will force Congress to get our fiscal house in order.

John Thune

John Thune is a United States Senator from South Dakota.