With Congress Home for Thanksgiving Despite Looming Budget Deadline, Kilmer and Arrington Say: “No Budget, No Recess”

Amendment to Be Considered by Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform Later This Month

WASHINGTON, DC – If Congress fails to do its job by passing a budget resolution and appropriations bills by their statutory deadlines, its members should not be allowed to head home for Thanksgiving without completion of their work.

To address this, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX) have proposed an amendment, calling on the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform’s support when it returns to complete consideration of their recommendations after Thanksgiving.

“Ever since my first job at West Side Video in Port Angeles, Washington, I’ve never had a job where I expected my boss to approve a leave request if my work wasn’t finished. Congress ought to function the same way,” Kilmer said. “It’s time for comprehensive reform to Congress’s budgeting process that incentivizes progress over partisanship and bipartisanship over bickering. That’s the driving force behind the No-budget, No-recess amendment Rep. Arrington and I will offer next week.”

“As families across America prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday this week, Congress has once again prematurely closed shop, this time, with seven of the twelve spending bills still outstanding,” said Arrington. “It has been over twenty years since Congress passed all spending bills before the end of the new fiscal year. The failure of Congress to do its basic job of funding the government and instead rely on stopgap spending measures has created needless waste, disruption, and inefficiencies.

“That is why I am introducing a legislative fix with my colleagues, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), to implement a “No Budget, No Recess” provision in our budgeting and appropriations process as a way to hold Congress accountable to the same standards as the American people by getting their work done on time.

“The next step in reforming our budget and appropriations process is to encourage more fiscal responsibility by reducing deficit spending and our mountainous debt, which remains the challenge of the 21st Century and the greatest threat to the next generation.”

Under the plan, Congress would not be allowed to adjourn without successfully completing all of its annual appropriations work before the July and August district work periods. Specifically, the amendment would prohibit the House from considering adjournment resolutions and also recommends that the House require live quorum calls for failure to pass a budget resolution or annual appropriations bills. These quorum calls would require Member attendance by triggering automatic votes in the House, incentivizing Congress to complete its budget and appropriations work in a timely manner and effectively barring members from leaving Washington.

If the House currently operated under these rules, Members would be in Washington, D.C., working on a budget before the start of the fiscal year, rather than traveling home. Kilmer and Arrington will offer this amendment during the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform’s markup after the Thanksgiving recess. 

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform is a temporary committee tasked with considering and recommending reforms to the current budgeting and appropriations processes in Congress. For the last several months, the committee has been discussing ideas for how to fix the process. It is completing its markup of the final product next week on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) are the committee’s co-chairs.

Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform Co-chair Steve Womack (R-AR), who is also the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, said: “If Congress fails to meet key budget deadlines, we should be required to stay in town to finish our work. The No Budget, No Recess amendment is common sense and reflective of the bipartisan spirit with which Joint Select Committee members have worked all year. I applaud Representatives Kilmer and Arrington for their dedication. They have been critical to the success of our panel, and the reforms they have championed, such as this amendment, will go a long way toward improving the federal budget process.”

Kilmer and Arrington have been working together to build consensus. They recently published an op-ed in The Hill about their frustration with Congress’s broken process.

The federal government is the largest employer in the region Kilmer represents. According to the Office of Personnel Management, more than 60,500 of the region’s residents are federal workers. These workers, their families and the region’s economy are directly affected when the government fails to pass a budget and spending agreement. Kilmer recently hosted Rep. Womack for a bipartisan exchange to areas where the federal budgeting process directly affect peoples’ jobs.

With Dyess Air Force Base located in Arrington’s district, he has consistently called for Congress to pass regular funding for the military and has fought for budgetary reforms that will establish accountability and certainty in the government funding process. Dyess Air Force Base contributes over a $1,000,000 a day to the local economy, and if faced with inconsistent funding, its readiness and contribution to the region would be greatly diminished.