Congress Needs Major Reform

The American people have lost confidence in the institution of Congress.  Due to my concerns about the breakdown of the budget and appropriations process, I have introduced H.R. 6201, the Budget and Transparency Act of 2006.  This legislation authorizes Congress to adopt a two-year budget cycle, so that budget and spending decisions are made in the first year of each Congressional term.  It would also implement strict guidelines for earmark disclosure.

When I left Congress in 2001, we had a balanced budget and a $155 billion surplus.  Today, we have $296 billion deficit.  Congress needs real reform now.  By implementing a two-year budget cycle, we can bring more transparency, responsibility and accountability to a process that is currently full of waste, fraud and abuse.

The two-year budget proposal calls for more oversight in the budget and appropriations process.  Under the plan, the second year would be used to conduct vigorous oversight to ensure that the taxpayer’s dollars are spent well.  This would apply to both the budget and earmarking process.

The second component to the Budget and Transparency Act of 2006 would call for disclosure of all earmarks, including appropriation, authorizing, and tax earmarks.  Earmark requests would be required to be included in the text of a bill—not hidden in the committee report or joint statements and each earmark would be paired with the name of its sponsor on a list prior to floor consideration.  Finally, this legislation would allow a point of order to be raised against any conference report that included a provision not previously approved by either the House or Senate versions of the bill.
Congress has been conducting the business of the American people behind closed-doors out of the view of the public.  The public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.  My legislation will change this culture of secrecy by making sure that fiscal decisions are made in an open, responsible and transparent way so that we can restore the public’s trust in Congress.