Tim Roemer and Rep. Derek Kilmer at The Hill:
Nowhere is the need for effective lawmaking more apparent than the budget and appropriations process. Article I gives Congress alone the “power of the purse.” This is arguably one of the body’s most essential constitutional responsibilities. Yet Congress continually fails in its duty to fund the government, epitomized by last year’s government shutdown — the longest in history. Rather than pass the 12 individual appropriations bills that the entire federal government relies on, Congress often neglects its role, opting for massive omnibus spending bills with little input from individual members or local communities.
The Modernization Committee took this head on. First, it adopted recommendations to reform the budget and appropriations process — including biennial budgeting and increased coordination between the executive and legislative branches. The Modernization Committee also proposed a new Community Focused Grant Program to give power back to local communities and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent more efficiently and transparently on local priorities. It includes specific guardrails against abuse, and by committing to local investments, could help bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass funding bills on time with improved oversight. This could help end the calamity of government shutdowns and ensure local communities have more say in how Congress spends your money — not lobbyists and special interests.