The budget conference committee met for the first time last week, and they have until December 13 to come up with an agreement, but they are already under some pressure to complete their work as soon as possible. The chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Harold Rogers, sent them a letter requesting an agreement by December 2, or November 22, if possible. They pushed the committee to wrap up speedily so they would have more time to produce their spending bills.
The appropriators aren’t the only ones making requests of the conference committee. Many are publishing their suggestions, one of which is that the whole budget process should be reformed. One wonders, however, whether it should actually be tried first.
Another suggestion for reform doesn’t require much at all, and might be effective: Restore earmarks. There are probably a number of benefits and drawbacks, but it’s something worth considering.
One of the big Republican demands is reform to the American entitlement system. The budget conference and subsequent reformers can easily go after the low-hanging fruit: waste, fraud and abuse.
While we are on the topic of reforming American politics, how about something more far reaching? How about a whole new constitution? That’s what National Journal is wondering. We are loath to tamper with something that has served us well for so many years, but it is an interesting thought experiment.
And for our latest blog post: What Happens When a Member of Congress Dies?