by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As part of a bipartisan spending deal, lawmakers last week voted to create a new congressional committee charged with trying to find a solution to years of spending dysfunction on Capitol Hill.
Lawmakers are always hesitant when it comes to authorizing new committees, and they rarely do it.
But Republican and Democratic leaders are becoming desperate to find a solution to the escalating spending fights that have consumed Congress and contributed to low approval ratings.
Congress has for the past two decades relied on last-minute, omnibus spending bills to fund the government, smashing together the dozen individual spending bills into one big measure and typically adding billions of dollars for extra projects and programs that have not received full scrutiny.
The process has grown increasingly divisive, which has made it nearly impossible for lawmakers to agree on omnibus spending packages. As a result, consecutive short-term bills, or continuing resolutions, some of them only a few days long, have become the norm for keeping the government funded and fully operational.
Three times in the past few years, the brinksmanship has led to partial government shutdowns, most recently during the early hours of Friday morning.
Lawmakers say they want to examine the problem and come up with a solution by the end of this year “on how we can fix this broken process between the House and the Senate once and for all on budget and appropriations,” Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said.