Testimony of Philip G. Joyce
Professor of Public Policy and Senior Associate Dean
University of Maryland, School of Public Policy
Before the Committee on the Budget House of Representatives on “Protecting Congress' Power of the Purse and the Rule of Law” March 11, 2020
Chairman Yarmuth, Ranking Member Womack, and members of the Budget Committee, thank you for inviting me to share my views on the role of the Congress in the budget process. I applaud the committee for focusing on this topic, as I believe that a strong Congressional budget presence is crucial to the health of our democracy. In my own view, the failure of the Congress to make effective use of its budgeting power, in addition to some institutional limitations that have been present since the passage of the Budget Act 45 years ago, have compromised the ability of the Congress to act as an effective check on the executive and as an alternate voice to the President in budgetary matters.
Recent Congressional budgeting failures have had the practical yet unintended effect of shifting power to the President, and that it is a good time to think about reclaiming some of that power. It might be particularly fruitful to talk about this now, since we don’t know which party will occupy the White House in January of 2021. Regardless of who the President might be, it is appropriate for the Congress to consider whether it wants to reassert Congressional prerogatives, particularly with respect to the budget.
In my testimony, I will discuss some of the historical developments that have brought us to this place, in addition to articulating some of the steps that might be taken to shift the balance of power to a place where the Congress can be on consistently equal footing with the executive.
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