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scratch, I think a service would be performed to help guide you so that you are looking—so you don't feel their sense of frustration, “Well, we couldn't possibly change the veterans' benefits program for these reasons."
Suppose you were to start from scratch and you determined there were some changes you would like to make. Maybe look at it 10 years from now. What do you think of the system—what might be a more reasonable system?
If agreement could be arrived upon on that sort of thing, you could, in effect, weigh your incremental budget with the idea in mind of some goal, even though that goal may change every year. I think you would be better off. I think the executive side would be better off if more of this was done.
Chairman ULLMAN. Thank you.
We were extremely frustrated, as Mrs. Griffiths will remember, when in 1967 we were doing our level best to establish some new priorities. You can't have all of these domestic programs and fight a major war at the same time. Most people agreed with that. There was no way we could get the Bureau of the Budget to put any new priorities on. There was no way to get at the programing processes.
Of course, ultimately this impounding operation that is going on now is probably aimed against the executive agencies as much as the Congress.
It is the President moving also against his own Bureau of the Budget, which has become a great monolithic monster that just keeps moving along and only direct intervention by the President can even interfere with those priorities.
Mr. Mayo. I think you give more power to the Bureau of the Budget than it actually has. As a practical matter, sure, the President doesn't make every detailed decision in there, but he is making the program decisions.
Chairman ULLMAN. If there are going to be any new priorities under our existing system he has to make them. The Bureau of the Budget can't.
Mr. Mayo. That is correct.
Chairman ULLMAN. The Bureau of the Budget can cut back overall by presenting cuts, but it has no mechanism for revising priori. ties. That must be done by the President.
Mr. Mayo. It can suggest and recommend. That is a power; I won't deny that.
Chairman ULLMAN. It should be in the hands of the President rather than an agency, because the priority decisions are the fundamental decisions of the country. Even the President shouldn't be making them. The Congress should be making them. That is what this whole issue is about.
If we are going to live within our means, either the Congress is going to decide these fundamental priorities or the President will do it.
Under the existing system, we have no way of doing it up here. Therefore, the President has to do it if we are to live within our means. That is why this procedure we are attempting to establish is so important. It would give Congress a mechanism for determining these limits and priorities ourselves as they constitutionally should be.
Mr. Mayo. Yes. The President's budget is, let's all remember, a financial plan recommended to the Congress. It was never intended to be the final result. But that is why I emphasized the need of a highly talented staff that could focus on the entire budget up here so that you can do this. .
* You have a harder job to do it than the President does. He is one man. You are 435 plus 100. That is why leadership is the key to this whole business.
You must have that leadership or forget it.
If you don't mind, we will ask you to stay where you are and continue the questioning a little later."
We have with us our distinguished colleague, Paul Findley, who has, as all the members know, been actively interested in this problem, promoting his own recommendations with respect to congressional budget for a long time. :
I have to leave shortly Paul. That doesn't mean I won't be studying your testimony. I will take a copy along. We value your judgment and your advice on this.
We are very pleased to have you here at this time.
Senator BENNETT. As I told you, Mr. Chairman, I must leave, too. I would like to say to Mr. Findley that I read his statement hurriedly, and am taking it with me for further study.
Mr. FIXDLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. **Chairman ULLMAN. I will turn the hearing over to our distinguished colleague from Michigan who is my colleague on the Ways and Means Committee and is extremely dedicated to this Budget Committee.
Mrs. Griffiths will take the Chair.
STATEMENT OF HON. PAUL FINDLEY, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE
FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Mr. FINDLEY. First, let me thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and present a statement on the urgent need for budget control.
Second, I want to commend you for the courage each of you has displayed in accepting this assignment and the effective way in which the committee is proceeding to meet its responsibilities.
Establishing at long last businesslike control by Congress over the purse strings of Government is no small task. In fact, when I first began my own intensive study of the problem 18 months ago, I was astounded at how little study and understanding of the problem has been apparent over the years.
No doubt much was done in the past which escaped my attention, but inquiries I made of long-time professionals in the appropriations and tax-writing field disclosed almost no literature on the problem.
Almost everyone familiar with congressional procedures has recognized the existence of the problem for many years, but hardly anyone sat down, studied the problem and put the results of his study on paper. Rare indeed has been the person in public office willing to venture into the field of actual drafting.
I, therefore, tip my hat to you with special feeling and appreciation.
In my view, nothing is more worthy of our time and best efforts this year than the task to which this committee has set itself.
The power of the Congress has waned substantially and, I think, dangerously in this field. All of us must share the blame. We have tended to take the easy way out. It is easier to appropriate money piecemeal from the President's budget requests than to adopt a budget ourselves.
Fifty years ago, the Congress established the present appropriations system. The purpose was to bring under a single committee's discipline management of the expenditure process. Today, however—at least on the House side-the Appropriations Committee functions not as a single entity, but as 13 separate ones.
Whatever the reasons, the waning of congressional control of the purse strings has also caused public confidence in the Congress itself to wane.
For this reason, I was delighted with the work that this Study Committee has already done.
Your tentative conclusions are quite excellent, in my view. They get to the very nub of this vexing problem.
I have read and studied them thoroughly and agree with just about everything that is included. In fact, a proposal upon which I have been working since the fall of 1971 fits almost all of the guidelines suggested. The bill has gone through several evolutions and is now before you as House Resolution 17.
I wouldn't want to leave the impression this is my bill alone. Mr. Ken Sprinkle is the one who really kindled my interest initially and worked with me over a long period of time.
Officials of the Office of Management and Budget, of the Parliamentarian staff of the House of Representatives and Dr. Arthur Burns, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, all of these people have taken a keen interest in this and made valuable suggestions.
The fact that it is only a House Resolution and applies only to the one chamber, may bother some of you. Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns who commended it to you on Tuesday, also added that he felt it should be expanded to assure participation by the Senate.
That could be accomplished. House Resolution 17 is an amendment to the Rules of the House of Representatives. The Rules of the Senate could similarly be amended if you decide that this approach is worthy. My reason for limiting this approach to the House is the constitutional provision that "each House may determine the rules of its proceedings."
It would hardly be appropriate for me to introduce a resolution to amend the rules of the Senate, although this committee might make such a recommendation.
How would my proposal function? It is best explained in the language of the resolution. Let me read the important sections:
Not later than sixty days after the President's annual budget message has been received at the beginning of each regular session of the Congress, the Committee on Appropriations is authorized and directed to report to the House a resolution containing a House-authorized federal budget for the ensuing fiscal year,
The budget shall include:
2. The maximum amount to be provided in obligational authority in each appropriation bill or resolution and in such other legislative provisions of obligational authority as may be specified, and the estimated budget outlay related to each, including those outlays from funds provided in prior years.
3. A table showing the relationship of total estimated receipts as shown in (1) to the aggregate of the maximum amounts to be provided in obligational authority and the aggregate of the estimated budget outlays as shown in (2).
Skipping over to the next page:
2. No bill or resolution carrying appropriations or otherwise providing obligational authority for the present or ensuing fiscal year shall be in order for consideration by the House until the House-authorized federal budget for such year has been approved, and the resolution required by Section 4 of this rule has been approved.
Section 4 reads:
4. Within fifteen calendar days after adoption of the House-authorized federal budget, the Committee on Ways and Means is authorized and directed to report a resolution containing recommendations as to the levels of public debt and aggregate federal revenues necessitated by figures on outlays and receipts con. tained in the House-authorized federal budget.
Any bill or resolution carrying appropriations or otherwise providing obligational authority whose report fails to include a statement in the first form, or which, in its amended form, fails to comply with the requirement as stated in the first form, and any amendment which causes the bill or resolution to fail to comply with the requirement as stated in the form, shall require in the House the approval of two-thirds of those members present and voting, a quorum being present.
To review, my proposal requires two preliminary steps before the House can consider an appropriation bill:
First, the adoption of a resolution from the Appropriations Committee containing a comprehensive budget for the ensuing fiscal year. The budget would require for each appropriation bill category and for each nonappropriation action, a ceiling on obligational authority and a ceiling on outlays. It would relate these figures to estimated revenues from all sources for the year.
Second, the adoption of a resolution from the Ways and Means Committee containing recommendations as to the levels of public debt and aggregate Federal revenues necessitated by figures on outlays and receipts contained in the first resolution.
Then and only then can the appropriation process begin. Then and only then can nonappropriation measures be considered which have the effect of authorizing outlays and/or obligations.
And each such measure must be tested against the budget as adopted by the House. First, it must be tested against the budget provision for obligational authority, and second, it must be tested against the budget provision for oulays.
If it exceeds the budget provision on either point, the measure may pass the House only by the approval of two-thirds of those present and voting.
This same discipline would apply to conference reports and motions in this agreement under conference report to review, Amendments, motions, and, disagreements, and conference reports must also pass the same test. This approach is strikingly simple. It relies upon the existing institutional structure of the House. I think that is an important distinction.
Existing committees are used rather than establishing new ones and adding to the burdens already imposed upon members. I heard unofficially that your committee is seriously considering recommending that a new committee be established in the Senate, a new committee be established in the House. My proposal would instead, require that the Appropriations Committee function as a single unit, as it was intended to function, and that it take on the full appropriation responsibility in the formation of the budget resolution instead of shifting this responsibility to a new entity.
I would also propose, by means of my resolution, my recommendation, that the Ways and Means Committee, which, under our system in the House, at least, is charged with the responsibility of raisingrecommending measures to raise the necessary revenue, also be charged with the responsibility of coming forward with recommendations as to what changes in revenue are necessitated-changes in revenue and debt limit-are necessitated by the budget resolution which has been just adopted.
So the effect of my proposal would be to really, in a sense, reactivate the central committees in the financial field to the responsibility that I think was originally intended for them rather than to bypass them and shift this responsibility to new entities in both the House and Senate.
By relying upon Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees, those members who now have the greatest expertise in this area are called upon to formulate budgetary proposals for consideration of the entire membership. The 13 subcommittee chairmen from Appropriations Committees and their minority counterpart would retain their important role in setting national policy.
In fact, in a sense, their role would be enhanced, as it should be. This is one of the few areas of difference between the Study Committee's recommendations and House Resolution 17.
Also, this proposal of mine will allow appropriation practices to proceed as they have in the past. Each appropriation subcommittee can begin to hold hearings on budgets within its jurisdiction as soon as Congress convenes. No delay is necessary on the beginning of the hearing process.
These hearings can take place before and during full committee consideration of the budget proposal. Then, once the budget and revenues resolutions have been adopted, the full committee can begin to report out the individual appropriations bills for consideration by the House. Here I talk of the House, but the same procedure could apply as well in the Senate.
If the judgment of this committee is to require that the same discipline apply to both bodies, it could work that way. There are no unnecessary delays, no marking of time, while one committee decides what another committee may and may not do.
This approach also fulfills the urgent need to establish national priorities within the framework of estimated revenues and expenditures. One of our gravest shortcomings has been the total inability of Congress to decide, as Chairman Burns puts it, "Whether expenditures for a particular category are desired strongly enough to raise taxes, or to cut back on another category." Until votes can be cast on such questions, Congress will not be setting national policy, and the American people will not be well served. House Resolution 17 provides an opportunity to do just that.
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