Last month in POLITICO, Rep. David Price (D-NC) argued a breakdown in the appropriations process has led to greater gridlock and stubborn budget battles. His analysis is spot on. Each day the government remains shutdown and we tick closer to a government default offers further support for Rep. Price’s claim.
He rightly notes that the appropriations process is critical both for the function of Congress and its ability to carry out its constitutional duties. Appropriation bills allow Congress greater oversight of agency activities and programs. It also allows Congress greater control over policy vis-à-vis the executive branch. This has appeal for both parties. Democrats will be able design domestic discretionary programs to promote the social good. Republicans will be able to wrestle some power away from a president of the opposing party.
Moreover, the appropriations process—which was historically a cooperative, bipartisan endeavor—helps bring together legislators who want policy to reflect the needs of the public, of their constituents. Ideological grandstanding has slithered into the process, and Mr. Price cites specific examples where it has caused a breakdown in negotiations.
Congress should restart governing through spending bills. They are good for Congress, and they are good for the American public. They help avoid government shutdowns, budget battles, and can limit gridlock by fostering cooperation between parties. Mr. Price’s piece also calls for one additional (and necessary) part of this solution: a budget agreement. Appropriations bills in concert with a comprehensive budget agreement offer both broad and specific guidance for governing federal programs.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr. Price knows best the benefits of a smooth spending process (and the costs of its dysfunction). In the end, he calls for a return to normalcy, and his colleagues would do well to take his advice.
POLITICO notes ‘Rep. David Price of North Carolina is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.’