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change. No business corporation could succeed using the antiquated procedures and tools with which the Congress has been funding.
This challenge and our ability to meet it reflects directly on the viability of our legislative function. We freshmen Congressmen are up to that challenge and reform. And we urge our senior colleagues to set the example by acting now to control Federal spending and to reform the congressional budget process.
It is our constitutional duty, and we can do no less.
Chairman WHITTEN. Thank you very much. I wish to also express as the Cochairman of the committee appreciation for the endorsement and support you have given our getting out the interim report. I do feel highly gratified not only at your support, but report to you that this report was adopted unanimously. I feel that that reflects the great hopes that we may get somewhere. The committee agreed we need to do something and we were able to agree on the basic principles.
There are many factors that enter into these things. One of them is that however good the proposed solution may be it is not good enough unless you can get it adopted.
It is gratifying to see that we have so much support at the beginning from the newer Members of the Congress. It at least gives you a nucleus from which to start in getting something adopted that will improve the situation.
Mr. CONlan. We realize what you have been doing, Mr. Chairman. We know deep down in our heart it has to be done, but sometimes in any institution it takes a little bit of effort for some people to do some downfield blocking so the statesman can score those touchdowns and we would like you to score those touchdowns with some success.
Chairman WHITTEN. In case your colleagues want to submit separate statements we will accept them.
Mr. CONLAN. We have a couple of questions that have come up among some of the younger Members. For example, most of us have come out of State legislatures where we have gone through this reform process. We would urge you, Mr. Chairman, not to compromise with suggestions that will only complicate the process of pinning down the responsibility.
We could see, out of reading the Interim Report, suggestion where the Congress might be involved for 60 days early in the term on debate on amounts of the budget, and every Congressman is getting on the floor and pontificating in various ways, and pointing with pride and viewing with alarm, and we are bogged down from the beginning. Any new capital outlay or new single amount of money for building or public works or something of this nature is an individual bill area, is an individual matter for that year; but anything relating to an increase or decrease in an agency or executive department's budget for that year-we are appalled at the committee structure here where you g, in ar go "hro ha 2-called authorization bill which is not really authorizing a new program, it is only skimming the surface of whether the budget should go up or down. That is in the budget process within the appropriations bill for the operating budget for the year. And it frees up these conimittees to really do some work in the overall system. Rather than having departmental executives parading up to one committee and parading up to another and wasting time.
This may be too much to doChairman WHITTEN. I appreciate the comment from my colleague. I would point out here that the lead-off witness, Dr. Arthur Burns, Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve System, pointed to the experience of the States dealing with appropriations.
Many of the people on this committee have had State legislative experience. I was on the State ways and means committee for 2 years, and I picked a bad time, because it was at a time when we were initiating a sales tax.
There are many things to be learned. One of the things I could clearly see is that the shortness of the State sessions historically, at least, requires many things. Certainly we must deal with the problems of delay due to the annual authorization process.
One thing we are considering which offers some hope is to provide for a special Budget Committee with a fixed jurisdiction, with representation from the legislative, appropriations, and tax committees. They could begin to meet as early as November 15. If they could, as they have in the State legislatures, have the cooperation of Executive, they could begin to gather and analyze the budget information. When Congress convenes, the special budget committee would be in a position to move expeditiously. I have offered this suggestion to several witnesses.
Mr. CONLAN. Mr. Chairman, I think you are right on the line. When we converted to it and got our joint budget committee, we did not bring in Ways and Means for Finance and Revenue, we limited it to a joint committee of half of the House Appropriations Committee and half of the Senate Appropriations. You are absolutely right, when that joint committee, with its staff is working directly with the executive department and you mandate by law the executive department budget is going to be up here by the 10th of September, and when you know about it, then you can analyze it.
Chairman WHITTEN. I am glad you agree. There is no reason why any executive branch would hesitate in the least to cooperate with us in providing advance information.
You mentioned your experience in Arizona. This report, as you know, points out that only about 44 percent of the outlay budget comes before the Appropriations Committee. So I think that any committee we come out with here should also have representatives from the legislative committees.
Mr. CONLAN. I understand that, Mr. Whitten. I would keep in mind that maybe you don't have to give as much as you might think you might have to to some of the other legislative committees. Many of us, in talking with some middle seniority members, are of the feeling that what has been happening here—you know, as every bill comes from the floor, and when you have a tough Appropriations Committee of senior members who are fairly entrenched, who can act more like statesmen, rather than responding to the pressures from their district, many Congressmen here, in reality, would just as soon be off the hook on some of these, and refer them to various Appropriations Committees. I am sure you know the thinking of people quite well.
Chairman WHITTEN. I am glad to hear you say that. I think I created the wrong impression. I think among the many legislative committees there are many folks as economically conservative as you and I. I think we need representation from those committees to cover the full budgeting process.
I think when you try to make a change you need all of the help you can get; when you have three or four factions, you have four factions to try to help do it.
Mr. Davis. On page 2 of your statement you do refer to a joint budget committee, composed of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees. As you know, in our Interim Report concept, the budget committee was approved, but according to some comments of the chairman, Mr. Whitten, it contemplates having people other than the members of the Appropriations Committee serve on it and I wonder if there was any special significance to your limiting the membership to members of the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. CONLAx. Input needs to come obviously from both the executive department and the joint budget staff as to what your revenue picture is. When you are going through appropriations, and that is a special function, you can have some input, because you know when you are going for a certain amount with an overall operational budget, you know either: one, it is going to require more taxes; or two, result in a balanced budget; or three, result in a deficit with its consequent effect. And when the Congressmen have to vote on such a bill the responsibility is pinpointed then. You are going to get more citizen control then of the appropriations process. Until that is pinpointed in one overall bill, I don't think some of the areas of reforms are really going to reach the level they need to. I don't think you need Ways and Means on such a joint budget committee in working up such a legislative budget because you can get that revenue input from staff and citizens without having members.
What your political situation is is something else here and, of course, Mr. Whitten has alluded to it. We have found in both California and other State uneasiness to bring in other committees.
Mr. Davis. I think the problem we have here, I think next year 44 percent of the expenditures of the Government are going to come before the Appropriations Committee. We have general revenue sharing, $6 billion. It was not only authorized but it was appropriated out of the Ways and Means Committee.
We have numerous other programs that are not actually subject to the Appropriations Committee and I don't know how we are going to make really much progress by having this Budget Committee entirely an Appropriations Committee matter.
In the past few years the appropriations leading to expenditures have been reduced something over $12 billion. That just happens to be slightly less than the amount of the expenditures that have come through processes other than the appropriation process, and that was why I did question limiting the membership of this Budget Committee to Appropriations Committee members.
Mr. CONLAN. Yes, I realize that, Mr. Davis, and you are obviously going to develop with your staff material, staff documentation, and I used to do this for the Defense Department when I was a legislative lobbyist about 18 years ago, and we had all of the documentation in every area, every category, and we used to keep it under top secret guard. It is the same thing on the legislative line when your staff puts together your executive department recommendations by category and your joint budget and legislative staff recommendation and then the Appropriations takes the knowledge and makes the decision. Your annual is fixed by current appropriations bills. If you have some other authorizing committees as to overall programs you may bring them into the discussion of what is essential for the national well being so they may go back then to their committees and change the basic authorizing laws in some areas.
Is that the thought of having them involved that they might see some of their existing ongoing authorization projects need reforming and revamping ?
Mr. Davis. We do have a problem here really on the part of some legislative committees, and particularly true with respect to general revenue sharing, they just didn't want the Appropriations Committee to look at it, because they couldn't be sure that money was going to be available, and we are getting that philosophy among others, and behind the tentative suggestion this committee made, that we better get some of these other people involved and get them into the picture here, so the Appropriations Committee which can control less than half of it, just isn't the only source responsible for the spending.
Mr. COXLAN. Then this is good, but you ought to watch carefully, you don't diffuse the spending responsibility.
Chairman WHITTEN. The point we make here is it is already diffused. We need to bring them in otherwise we cannot have budgetary control.
Mr. COXLAN. This is right. In these areas this is tied in with the overall structure.
Mr. Davis. Let me say, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Conlan, we think you have very well expressed the concern you and your junior colleagues in the House have, and the concern I am sure the members of this committee have felt. I think you have given us some good input into the solution of this problem. Thank you.
Mr. CoxLan. Thank you, Mr. Davis; thank you, Mr. Whitten, for your time. We are behind you all the way.
Chairman WHITTEN. We will adjourn until 10 a.m., Tuesday morning, March 13, 1973.
(Whereupon, the hearing was adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 13, 1973.]