Multi-employee pensions and budget process reform are two issues flying low on the radar in Washington, D.C. but two select committees created in the recent federal budget agreement could bring those further up to the forefront.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, chairman of the House Budget Committee and Arkansas’ Third District Congressman, told members of the Noon Exchange Rotary Club on Friday his intention as chair of a select committee for budget process reform is to come up with some changes to the 1974 Budget Act to help Congress fulfill its “fundamental” duty and have that in bill form by the end of July prior to election campaigns begin in full force.
“That’s because I know that when we come home for the August recess this summer and go back in September for legislative work that everybody is going to be focused on re-election and not so focused on doing something transformational like budget process reform,” Womack said.
The Congressman said while he is unsure exactly how that amendment will look like, he thinks it could include a bi-annual budget and bi-annual appropriations, much like the state of Arkansas does. A “consequence for inaction,” however, should be included, he added.
“Congress has been stuck for years not able to do budgets and pass appropriations on time, which leads to threats of a government shutdown and continuing resolutions to fund government,” Womack said. “Continuing resolutions have been killing the federal government because none of these bureaucracies can plan and its been terribly devastating to our national security apparatus. They can’t do new starts and have to rely on funding for previous goals and objectives but not for the emerging new threats of today. No way to run a railroad.”
Womack said that while there are many threats to the United States, he considers the “division of the body politic” as greatest threat and the country’s leaders needs to do some “soul searching” in regards to appealing to political base groups.
“Personally I think we need to admit how we got here, and one of the ways we got here was this concept of redistricting every 10 years,” Womack said. “We redraw boundaries based on our abilities to protect voting blocks, to protect a certain ideology. The left does it and the right does it.”
Womack went on to say “base” groups pull candidates to the extremes and members of Congress “have to give up a little on each side.”