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United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform was established on February 9, 2018 during the 115th United States Congress under Section 30442 of H.R. 1892.

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Transcription

Hi, I'm Craig and this is Crash Course Government and Politics and today we're going to get down and dirty wallowing in the mud that is Congress. Okay, maybe that's a little unfair, but the workings of Congress are kind of arcane or byzantine or maybe let's just say extremely complex and confusing, like me, or Game of Thrones without the nudity. Some of the nudity, maybe. However, Congress is the most important branch, so it would probably behoove most Americans to know how it works. I'm going to try to explain. Be prepared to be behooved. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are divided up into committees in order to make them more efficient. The committees you hear about most are the standing committees, which are relatively permanent and handle the day-to-day business of Congress. The House has 19 standing committees and the Senate 16. Congressmen and Senators serve on multiple committees. Each committee has a chairperson, or chair, who is the one who usually gets mentioned in the press, which is why you would know the name of the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Tell us in the comments if you do know, or tell us if you are on the committee, or just say hi. Congress creates special or select committees to deal with particular issues that are beyond the jurisdiction of standing committees. Some of them are temporary and some, like the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are permanent. Some of them have only an advisory function which means they can't write laws. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has only advisory authority which tells you pretty much all you need to know about Congress and climate change. There are joint committees made up of members of both houses. Most of them are standing committees and they don't do a lot although the joint Committee on the Library oversees the Library of Congress, without which we would not be able to use a lot of these pictures. Like that one, and that one, and ooh that one's my favorite. Other committees are conference committees, which are created to reconcile a bill when the House and Senate write different versions of it, but I'll talk about those later when we try to figure out how a bill becomes a law. So why does Congress have so many committees? The main reason is that it's more efficient to write legislation in a smaller group rather than a larger one. Congressional committees also allow Congressmen to develop expertise on certain topics. So a Congressperson from Iowa can get on an agriculture committee because that is an issue he presumably knows something about if he pays attention to his constituents. Or a Congressperson from Oklahoma could be on the Regulation of Wind Rolling Down the Plain Committee. Committees allow members of Congress to follows their own interests, so someone passionate about national defense can try to get on the armed services committee. Probably more important, serving on a committee is something that a Congressperson can claim credit for and use to build up his or her brand when it comes time for reelection. Congress also has committees for historical reasons. Congress is pretty tradish, which is what you say when you don't have time to say traditional. Anyway, it doesn't see much need to change a system that has worked, for the most part, since 1825. That doesn't mean that Congress hasn't tried to tweak the system. Let's talk about how committees actually work in the Thought Bubble. Any member of Congress can propose a bill, this is called proposal power, but it has to go to a committee first. Then to get to the rest of the House or Senate it has to be reported out of committee. The chair determines the agenda by choosing which issues get considered. In the House the Speaker refers bills to particular committees, but the committee chair has some discretion over whether or not to act on the bills. This power to control what ideas do or do not become bills is what political scientists call "Gatekeeping Authority", and it's a remarkably important power that we rarely ever think about, largely because when a bill doesn't make it on to the agenda, there's not much to write or talk about. The committee chairs also manage the actual process of writing a bill, which is called mark-up, and the vote on the bill in the committee itself. If a bill doesn't receive a majority of votes in the committee, it won't be reported out to the full House or Senate. In this case we say the bill "died in committee" and we have a small funeral on the National Mall. Nah we just put it in the shredder. Anyway, committee voting is kind of an efficient practice. If a bill can't command a majority in a small committee it doesn't have much chance in the floor of either house. Committees can kill bills by just not voting on them, but it is possible in the House to force them to vote by filing a discharge petition - this almost never happens. Gatekeeping Authority is Congress's most important power, but it also has oversight power, which is an after-the-fact authority to check up on how law is being implemented. Committees exercise oversight by assigning staff to scrutinize a particular law or policy and by holding hearings. Holding hearings is an excellent way to take a position on a particular issue. Thanks Thought Bubble. So those are the basics of how committees work, but I promised you we'd go beyond the basics, so here we go into the Realm of Congressional History. Since Congress started using committees they have made a number of changes, but the ones that have bent the Congress into its current shape occurred under the speakership of Newt Gingrich in 1994. Overall Gingrich increased the power of the Speaker, who was already pretty powerful. The number of subcommittees was reduced, and seniority rules in appointing chairs were changed. Before Gingrich or "BG" the chair of a committee was usually the longest serving member of the majority party, which for most of the 20th century was the Democrats. AG Congress, or Anno Gingrichy Congress, holds votes to choose the chairs. The Speaker has a lot of influence over who gets chosen on these votes, which happen more regularly because the Republicans also impose term limits on the committee chairs. Being able to offer chairmanships to loyal party members gives the Speaker a lot more influence over the committees themselves. The Speaker also increased his, or her - this is the first time we can say that, thanks Nancy Pelosi - power to refer bills to committee and act as gatekeeper. Gingrich also made changes to congressional staffing. But before we discuss the changes, let's spend a minute or two looking at Congressional staff in general. There are two types of congressional staff, the Staff Assistants that each Congressperson or Senator has to help her or him with the actual job of being a legislator, and the Staff Agencies that work for Congress as a whole. The staff of a Congressperson is incredibly important. Some staffers' job is to research and write legislation while others do case work, like responding to constituents' requests. Some staffers perform personal functions, like keeping track of a Congressperson's calendar, or most importantly making coffee - can we get a staffer in here? As Congresspeople spend more and more time raising money, more and more of the actual legislative work is done by staff. In addition to the individual staffers, Congress as a whole has specialized staff agencies that are supposed to be more independent. You may have heard of these agencies, or at least some of them. The Congressional Research Service is supposed to perform unbiased factual research for Congresspeople and their staff to help them in the process of writing the actual bills. The Government Accountability Office is a branch of Congress that can investigate the finances and administration of any government administrative office. The Congressional Budget Office assesses the likely costs and impact of legislation. When the CBO looks at the cost of a particular bill it's called "scoring the bill." The Congressional reforms after 1994 generally increased the number of individual staff and reduced the staff of the staff agencies. This means that more legislation comes out of the offices of individual Congresspeople. The last feature of Congress that I'm going to mention, briefly because their actual function and importance is nebulous, is the caucus system. These are caucuses in Congress, so don't confuse them with the caucuses that some states use to choose candidates for office, like the ones in Iowa. Caucuses are semi-formal groups of Congresspeople organized around particular identities or interests. Semi-formal in this case doesn't mean that they wear suits and ties, it means that they don't have official function in the legislative process. But you know what? Class it up a little - just try to look nice. The Congressional Black Caucus is made up of the African American members of the legislature. The Republican Study Group is the conservative caucus that meets to discuss conservative issues and develop legislative strategies. Since 2010 there is also a Tea Party caucus in Congress. There are also caucuses for very specific interests like the Bike Caucus that focuses on cycling. There should also be a Beard Caucus, shouldn't there? Is there a Beard Caucus Stan? No? What about an eagle punching caucus? The purpose of these caucuses is for like minded people to gather and discuss ideas. The caucuses can help members of Congress coordinate their efforts and also provide leadership opportunities for individual Congresspeople outside of the more formal structures of committees. There are a lot of terms and details to remember, but here's the big thing to take away: caucuses, congressional staff, and especially committees, all exist to make the process of lawmaking more efficient. In particular, committees and staff allow individual legislators to develop expertise; this is the theory anyway. Yes it's a theory. Committees also serve a political function of helping Congresspeople build an identity for voters that should help them get elected. In some ways this is just as important in the role in the process of making actual legislation. When Congress doesn't pass many laws, committee membership, or better yet, being a committee chair is one of the only ways that a Congressperson can distinguish him or herself. At least it gives you something more to learn about incumbents when you're making your voting choices. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week. Crash Course is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports nonprofits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at voqal.org Crash Course is made with all of these lovely people. Thanks for watching. Staffer! Coffee! Please. Thank you.

Contents

Members, 115th Congress

Majority Minority
Senate
members
House
members

Text

SEC. 30442. ESTABLISHMENT OF JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE.

(a) Establishment of Joint Select Committee.— There is established a joint select committee of Congress to be known as the "Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform".
(b) Implementation.—
(1) Goal.— The goal of the joint committee is to reform the budget and appropriations process.
(2) Duties.—
(A) In general.— The joint committee shall provide recommendations and legislative language that will significantly reform the budget and appropriations process.
(B) Report, recommendations, and legislative language.—
(i) In general.— Not later than November 30, 2018, the joint committee shall vote on—
(I) a report that contains a detailed statement of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the joint committee; and
(II) proposed legislative language to carry out the recommendations described in subclause (I).
(ii) Approval of report and legislative language.—
(I) In general.— The report of the joint committee and the proposed legislative language described in clause (i) shall only be approved upon receiving the votes of—
(aa) a majority of joint committee members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate; and
(bb) a majority of joint committee members appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and the Minority Leader of the Senate.
(II) Availability.— The text of any report and proposed legislative language shall be publicly available in electronic form at least 24 hours prior to its consideration.
(iii) Additional views.— A member of the joint committee who gives notice of an intention to file supplemental, minority, or additional views at the time of the final joint committee vote on the approval of the report and legislative language under clause (ii) shall be entitled to 2 calendar days after the day of such notice in which to file such views in writing with the co-chairs. Such views shall then be included in the joint committee report and printed in the same volume, or part thereof, and their inclusion shall be noted on the cover of the report. In the absence of timely notice, the joint committee report may be printed and transmitted immediately without such views.
(iv) Transmission of report and legislative language.—
If the report and legislative language are approved by the joint committee pursuant to clause (ii), the joint committee shall submit the joint committee report and legislative language described in clause (i) to the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the majority and minority leaders of each House of Congress not later than 15 calendar days after such approval.
(v) Report and legislative language to be made public.— Upon the approval of the joint committee report and legislative language pursuant to clause (ii), the joint committee shall promptly make the full report and legislative language, and a record of any vote, available to the public.
(3) Membership.—
(A) In general.— The joint committee shall be composed of 16 members appointed pursuant to subparagraph (B).
(B) Appointment.— Members of the joint committee shall be appointed as follows:
(i) The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint 4 members from among Members of the House of Representatives.
(ii) The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives shall appoint 4 members from among Members of the House of Representatives.
(iii) The Majority Leader of the Senate shall appoint 4 members from among Members of the Senate.
(iv) The Minority Leader of the Senate shall appoint 4 members from among Members of the Senate.
(C) Co-chairs.— Two of the appointed members of the joint committee will serve as co-chairs. The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate shall jointly appoint one co-chair, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and the Minority Leader of the Senate shall jointly appoint the second co-chair. The co-chairs shall be appointed not later than 14 calendar days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(D) Date.— Members of the joint committee shall be appointed not later than 14 calendar days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(E) Period of appointment.— Members shall be appointed for the life of the joint committee. Any vacancy in the joint committee shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled not later than 14 calendar days after the date on which the vacancy occurs, in the same manner as the original appointment was made. If a member of the joint committee ceases to be a Member of the House of Representatives or the Senate, as the case may be, the member is no longer a member of the joint committee and a vacancy shall exist.
(4) Administration.—
(A) General authority.— For purposes of enabling the joint committee to exercise its powers, functions, and duties under this subtitle, and consistent with the Standing Rules of the Senate, there is authorized from the date of enactment of this Act through February 28, 2019, $500,000 to be allocated—
(i) in total during the period October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018; and
(ii) any remaining amounts shall be carried forward for the period October 1, 2018 through February 28, 2019.
(B) Expenses.— Expenses of the joint committee shall be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate upon vouchers approved by the co-chairs, subject to the rules and regulations of the Senate.
(C) Quorum.— Nine members of the joint committee shall constitute a quorum for purposes of voting and meeting, and 5 members of the joint committee shall constitute a quorum for holding hearings.
(D) Voting.— No proxy voting shall be allowed on behalf of the members of the joint committee.
(E) Meetings.—
(i) Initial meeting.— Not later than 30 calendar days after the date of enactment of this Act, the joint committee shall hold its first meeting.
(ii) Agenda.— The co-chairs of the joint committee shall provide an agenda to the joint committee members not less than 48 hours in advance of any meeting.
(F) Hearings.—
(i) In general.— The joint committee may, for the purpose of carrying out this section, hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, require attendance of witnesses and production of books, papers, and documents, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the joint committee considers advisable.
(ii) Hearing procedures and responsibilities of co-chairs.—
(I) Announcement.— The co-chairs of the joint committee shall make a public announcement of the date, place, time, and subject matter of any hearing to be conducted, not less than 7 days in advance of such hearing, unless the co-chairs determine that there is good cause to begin such hearing at an earlier date.
(II) Equal representation of witnesses.— Each co-chair shall be entitled to select an equal number of witnesses for each hearing held by the joint committee.
(III) Written statement.— A witness appearing before the joint committee shall file a written statement of proposed testimony at least 2 calendar days before the appearance of the witness, unless the requirement is waived by the co-chairs, following their determination that there is good cause for failure to comply with such requirement.
(G) Minimum number of public meetings and hearings.— The joint committee shall hold—
(i) not less than a total of 5 public meetings or public hearings; and
(ii) not less than 3 public hearings, which may include field hearings.
(H) Technical assistance.— Upon written request of the co-chairs, a Federal agency, including legislative branch agencies, shall provide technical assistance to the joint committee in order for the joint committee to carry out its duties.
(I) Staffing.—
(i) Details.— Employees of the legislative branch may be detailed to the joint committee on a nonreimbursable basis, consistent with the rules and regulations of the Senate.
(ii) Staff director.— The co-chairs, acting jointly, may designate one such employee as staff director of the joint committee.
(c) Ethical Standards.— Members on the joint committee who serve in the House of Representatives shall be governed by the ethics rules and requirements of the House. Members of the Senate who serve on the joint committee shall comply with the ethics rules of the Senate.
(d) Termination.— The joint committee shall terminate on December 31, 2018 or 30 days after submission of its report and legislative recommendations pursuant to this section whichever occurs first.

SEC. 30443. FUNDING.

(a) Special Reserve.— To enable the joint committee to exercise its powers, functions, and duties under this subtitle, within the funds in the account for "Expenses of Inquiries and Investigations" of the Senate, not more than $500,000 shall be allocated from the special reserve established in S.Res. 62, agreed to February 28, 2017 (115th Congress), for use by the joint committee.
(b) Expiration.— None of the funds made available by this section may be available for obligation by the joint committee after January 2,

2019.

(c) Availability Requirements.— For purposes of the joint committee, section 20(b) of S.Res. 62, agreed to February 28, 2017

(115th Congress), shall not apply.

SEC. 30444. CONSIDERATION OF JOINT COMMITTEE BILL IN THE SENATE.

(a) Introduction.— Upon receipt of proposed legislative language approved in accordance with section 30442(b)(2)(B)(ii), the language shall be introduced in the Senate (by request) on the next day on which the Senate is in session by the Majority Leader of the Senate or by a Member of the Senate designated by the Majority Leader of the Senate.
(b) Committee Consideration.— A joint committee bill introduced in the Senate under subsection (a) shall be referred to the Committee on the Budget, which shall report the bill without any revision and with a favorable recommendation, an unfavorable recommendation, or without recommendation, no later than 7 session days after introduction of the bill. If the Committee on the Budget fails to report the bill within that period, the committee shall be automatically discharged from consideration of the bill, and the bill shall be placed on the appropriate calendar.
(c) Motion to Proceed to Consideration.—
(1) In general.— Notwithstanding rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, it is in order, not later than 2 days of session after the date on which a joint committee bill is reported or discharged from the Committee on the Budget, for the Majority Leader of the Senate or the Majority Leader's designee to move to proceed to the consideration of the joint committee bill. It shall also be in order for any Member of the Senate to move to proceed to the consideration of the joint committee bill at any time after the conclusion of such 2-day period.
(2) Consideration of motion.— Consideration of the motion to proceed to the consideration of the joint committee bill and all debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith shall not exceed 10 hours, which shall be divided equally between the Majority and Minority Leaders or their designees. A motion to further limit debate is in order, shall require an affirmative vote of three-fifths of Members duly chosen and sworn, and is not debatable.
(3) Vote threshold.— The motion to proceed to the consideration of the joint committee bill shall only be agreed to upon an affirmative vote of three-fifths of Members duly chosen and sworn.
(4) Limitations.— The motion is not subject to a motion to postpone. All points of order against the motion to proceed to the joint committee bill are waived. A motion to reconsider the vote by which the motion is agreed to or disagreed to shall not be in order.
(5) Deadline.— Not later than the last day of the 115th Congress, the Senate shall vote on a motion to proceed to the joint committee bill.
(d) Rules of Senate.— This section is enacted by Congress—
(1) as an exercise of the rulemaking power of the Senate, and as such is deemed a part of the rules of the Senate, but applicable only with respect to the procedure to be followed in the Senate in the case of a joint committee bill, and supersede other rules only to the extent that they are inconsistent with such rules; and
(2) with full recognition of the constitutional right of the Senate to change the rules (so far as relating to the procedure of the Senate) at any time, in the same manner, and to the same extent as in the case of any other rule of the Senate.

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