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to submit each proposed impoundment to the Congress and if Congress overrode the item by a two-thirds vote he would release the money.
So by agreement between the legislative and the Executive, there is a way to prevent this and I would hope the President would consider that.
The other thing that I would like to say here, speaking for myself only, and I am speaking to my colleagues as well as you, I believe that the manner in which any new budget committee is constituted is most important to the success of achieving better fiscal control. · I do think it is possible that the taxation committees, the appropriations committees, and the legislative committees could designate of their number representatives to serve on such a special budget committee that could agree on a budget ceiling speaking for existing committees. I think that would be a practical approach, rather than setting up an entirely new group.
No system will work unless we get some vehicle whereby we can get Congress to pull together.
Dr. Burns. Your suggestion seems very sensible to me because you will be bringing in not only the appropriations committees and the tax raising committees, but also the various legislative committees. You would be doing it all on a representative basis. The number of individuals involved would not be so large as to be unable to tackle the job and yet everybody would have a part in it. That might be the very best way of doing it.
Chairman WuITTEX. I appreciate your comment.
Dr. Burns, you do concur then in our effort to establish a mechanism in Congress whereby (ongress would establish an overall program of revenues and expenditures, and thereby have a mechanism for fitting the parts into the whole.
Dr. Burxs. I endorse that wholeheartedly. I think it is absolutely essential.
Chairman UlLMIX. That is basically the challenge of this committee. Your ideas and suggestions and perserverance have been most helpful to the committee and we want to express our appreciation to you, sir.
Dr. Burxs. Thank you. Chairman ('LLMAX. Thank you very much. Our next witness is our distinguished colleague, Senator William Brock of Tennessee.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM BROCK, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Chairman ULLMAX. Senator, vre welcome you before the committee. We note you have been most active in the field of congressional budgetary control.
Again, we welcome you.
First, let me not only commend this committee, but extend my very deep appreciation for the work you are doing. It is my conviction that the result of your labors may be the most significant-significant in terms of our procedures and significant to the American people that have been undertaken since 1929 by the Congress.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Burns for his support of some of the concepts that are embodied in my bill.
With your permission, I am going to summarize my testimony rather than give it in total and I think it might ease the burden.
Chairman ULLMAN. Without objection, your full testimony will be in the record. We appreciate your comments.
Senator Brock. If we were spending within our means, and we are not, it would still be true that the Congress has no system for seeing to it that we are spending wisely.
If one subscribes to the view, which I do not, that deficit budgets are not harmful, it would still be true that reforms are needed.
This point is important and I raise it because budgetary reforms deserve support not only of those who believe as I that our budgets are too large, but also deserves the support of those who favor large spending programs.
They, too, have an interest, perhaps even a greater one in seeing to it that our appropriations process makes sense, that our resources are allocated in relation to our priorities and that the programs which we fund are in fact effective in dealing with the problems for which they were designed.
Moreover, this action is something we owe to the people of this Nation. The money we are spending is not ours. It is theirs. They deserve assurance that we are spending it wisely and under the current system none of us in Congress can honestly give that assurance.
This viewpoint was clearly recognized in the Interim Report which was issued a month ago by this particular Joint Study Committee.
I want to compliment the committee for this document and for the conclusions they assert in it. To wit, the legislative process should include an opportunity for the Congress to examine the budget from an overall point of view, together with a congressional system of deciding priorities.
Gentlemen, we obviously do not have such an opportunity for such a system today. Just as obviously we should and I think we must.
My proposal in this regard is embodied in legislative bill S. 40 which I have introduced in this session of the Congress.
If I may just briefly summarize it. Titles I and VI of this bill amend the House and Senate rules to create a joint committee on the legislative budget.
A joint congressional committee and a legislative budget is not a new idea. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 enacted both concepts. But the joint committee under the 1946 act proved unworkable.
The 102-member committee was too large and frankly far understaffed, and its legislative budget proved unworkable because of inadequate time for its formulation of legislation.
One of the lessons from this experiment was that Congress simply did not have the professional staff to do the job required in budget analysis.
If I may deviate just a moment here from the text and point out that the Congressman from North Carolina who is one of the most able Members of either body was asking Mr. Burns about the possibility of congressional cooperation, consultation with OMB during the budget preparation. That would concern me. I understand the logic of the request, but I am afraid it would rather than enhance the power of the Congress, diminish it.
I am afraid it would again place us, as we are today, at the disposal and the mercy of a huge and talented staff for which we have no counterpart to give us alternative suggestions. And I question whether that is really what we want to see. I think there is a better alternative.
The joint committee and the legislative budget provided in my bill would remedy earlier defects in attempts to reform the congressional budgetary system.
A standing joint committee with adequate time to formulate a legislative budget is provided. This joint committee is streamlined to be composed of 18 members represented by three members from the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees, three members from the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees, and three members at large from both sides.
May I add, to function this Joint Committee simply must be adequately staffed-in fact, the original point that the Congressman raised.
Incidentally, I should point out this procedure, and the staffing attendant to it, is a normal one in many States. California, for example, provides its State legislature with a budget review and analysis staff of comparable size to that afforded the Governor. This review and recommendations are encompassed in a report equal in magnitude to the original budget proposal.
Mr. Schneebeli was asking Mr. Burns about whether or not we shouldn't give more power to the President because more States give more power to the chief executive.
I don't agree because I think that is our problem today. I think we have handed over too much power to OMB and to the Executive.
The California process illustrates the alternative and that is to give the legislative branch, the peoples' branch, a staff of sufficient competence and size so as to allow us to truly be coequal.
The legislative budget would be submitted to Congress no later than May 31 of each year. The legislative and appropriations committees' work will not be hindered, but a systematic analysis of the Federal budget will be made before any expenditure is authorized or appropriated.
Neither the House nor the Senate would consider any bill reported out by a committee of Congress unless a statement from that committee accompanies the bill as to whether an authorization or appropriation is within the legislative budget limits.
Thus title I of my bill effectively deals with 7 of the 11 general principles of the interim report, and provides a workable mechanism for their implementation.
Title II requires a 5-year budget projection in program detail for every major functional category of Federal spending.
Full recognition of the long-range costs of expenditure programs will provide a better basis for decisionmaking on the part of the administration as well as the Congress.
This title repeals an existing section of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 which only superficially attempts to overcome this problem.
In its place, title II provides that the executive budget and bills involving spending reported out by committees of Congress, except the Committees on Appropriations of each House, must contain a statement of the 5-year projected costs, a comparison of projected costs with estimates by any Federal agency and a list of existing or proposed programs with similar objectives.
The idea of comprehensive 5-year budget projections has broad support. In addition to its recognition by the Joint Study Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee has expressed a deep concern for increasing expenditure levels, and recommended that budget and program expenditures should be projected on a 5-year basis, as has your study.
And just to mention one of our colleagues, the Senator from Wisconsin, Mr. Nelson, has long advocated a 5-year budget on defense spending.
Title III requires that all authorizations for any major Federal expenditure programs, except those funded by user taxes, must expire no less than once every 3 years. This is commonly called zero-based budgeting.,
The trend today is to add on to old, existing programs without the objective or the ability to terminate or even reevaluate outmoded and useless ones. We must force program administrators to justify their existence so that we can avoid the continuing laying on of more and more patches on the quilt of Federal programs.
There is a concern expressed in your interim recommendation No. 10 of the interim report that annual authorizations are cumbersome and time consuming, and impede swift action on budgetary measures.
I couldn't agree more.
Title III of my bill permits authorizations of up to 3 years, while at the same time setting up a mechanism for detailed evaluation of each program by the Senate and House Committees with jurisdiction in that area.
In other words, if we reevaluate it at least once every 3 years, we would authorize only a third of the programs each year and it would allow the Congress to honestly do its constitutional and public function of evaluation and reform.
Title IV invites consideration of at least 2-year pilot programs for proposed major programs to provide a better estimate of cost and permit a complete evaluation before national implementation.
There are other sections in the bill, but to sum up. We use incredible terminology these days. We say that 75 percent of the total budget is relatively uncontrollable. Two hundred and two billion dollars, relatively uncontrollable.
Social security, medicare, unemployment benefits, interest on public debt, farm supports, public assistance, all these and more are relatively uncontrollable.
There are many good programs in these categories, and quite a few bad ones. But even if they were all good, I sometimes wonder how we have the gall to stand for reelection, knowing that we have taken $202 billion from the American people and lost control of it.
It ought to be a scandal, and I believe it is. We have the opportunity now, throught the vehicle of S. 40 or some comparable measure to do something about it, to restore congressional prerogatives of the peo
ple's branch. It is the people's branch, It is the instrument of reform. We must be capable of self-reform or we fail the American people's desire for us to restore the rights and responsibilities of the Congress and to establish national priorities within the context of available resources.
When we talk about congressional power, I am reminded of the statement of the then Governor of Michigan who stated there are no State rights without the exercise of State responsibilities. I think that applies to anybody. This Congress has power, an enormous amount granted to it by the Constitution, but that power can only be exercised to the extent that we accept the responsibilities that it implies.
If we fail to seize this opportunity, we will have failed that test and I think we will have failed the American people.
I would be delighted to have any questions, Mr. Chairman. [The full statement follows:]
STATEMENT OF SENATOR BILL BROCK
There has been in recent years a growing recognition in the Congress that reforms were urgently needed in the method by which we appropriate the public funds of the United States.
This recognition has accompanied, and to a considerable degree been bred by, a pattern of sharply rising Federal expenditures, which have additionally brought about a situation where budgetary deficits have become the rule, rather than the exception, of governmental fiscal conduct. It is important, however, to realize that budgetary reform is urgently needed, independently of this pattern.
If we were spending within our means--which we are not-it would still be true that the Congress has no system for seeing to it that we are spending wisely. If one subscribes to the view—which I do not-that deficit budgets are not harmful, it would still be true that reforms are needed.
The point is important because budgetary reform deserves the support not only of those who believe, as I do, that our budgets are too large. It also deserves the support of those who favor large Federal spending programs. They too hare an interest - perhaps even a greater interest-in seeing to it that our appropriations process makes sense, that our resources are allocated in relation to our priorities, and that the programs which we fund are in fact effective in dealing with the problems for which they were designed.
Thus it is that budgetary reform is in no way a partisan or an ideological issue, but rather one which should be enthusiastically supported by Senators and Congressmen of all persuasions.
Moreover, it is something we owe to the people. The money we are spending is their money. They deserve assurance that we are spending it wisely, and under the current system, none of us in the Congress can honestly give them that assurance.
This viewpoint is clearly recognized in the Interim Report which was issued a month ago by this Joint Study Committee. I wish to compliment the Joint Study Committee on this excellent document, and for the conclusion which they assert in it, that:
The legislative process should include an opportunity for the Congress to examine the budget from an overall point if view, together with a congres
sional system of deciding priorities. Clearly we do not now have such an opportunity, nor such a system. Just as clearly, we should : we must. I have spoken on this subject throughout the country, and I can attest that people are amazed to learn of the convoluted and haphazard methods which we employ. I have yet to find a citizen who does not believe that we should improve our procedures in this regard. I have yet to find a citizen who believes we are going about appropriations in the right way.
A man knows that he cannot consider his needs and desires for food, shelter. clothing, entertainment, transportation, furniture, and the like separately and without regard to his total available resources. His wife knows that there are times when a new dress must wait while tires for the car are purchased, just as he knows that there are times when the new lawnmower he needs must be put off in favor of a new clothes dryer.