On making budgeting easier, three proposals would ease the delays now encountered. First, stop legislating on appropriations bills to help restore the deference and legislative responsibility owed the authorizing committees. Second, give higher priority to reauthorization bills instead of treating them as afterthoughts on their expiration dates. And third, move to a biennial budget resolution, from which the debt and discretionary spending ceilings would be transferred to a bill for statutory enactment (similar to the old Gephardt rule in the House).
By making these simple adjustments in the way things are done, starting with making sufficient time available to do them, Congress can begin to move in the direction of restoring a culture of legislating. That is something Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, committed to do at the beginning of this Congress, and he deserves encouragement from members and the public to continue.
What struck me the most about the roundtable participants was their abiding love of Congress and concern about its future. This became clear in their willingness to spend hours discussing with their colleagues of both parties how best to improve the institutionís ability to legislate in the nationís interest. Letís hope itís contagious, beginning this week.
Don Wolfensberger is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and former staff director of the House Rules Committee.