Five Facts on the House Problem Solvers Caucus Budget Plan
The American government’s ability to function is once again hanging in the balance as the risk of another government shutdown looms large. The fractious House Republican conference has been unable to reach a consensus on key spending issues, while the Democratic Senate has vowed to block spending bills that cater to the demands of far-right members of the Republican Party. Wednesday night, the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators that has played a leading role in passing landmark bills in recent years, laid out a four-step comprehensive plan to keep the government running and address other critical issues, offering a path forward to preventing another costly shutdown.
Here are Five Facts about the Problem Solvers’ framework to prevent a government shutdown:
1. Step 1 in the framework calls for maintaining current funding levels through Jan. 11, 2024, to avert a government shutdown.
The bipartisan framework aims to pass a continuing resolution before Sept. 30, funding the government at current levels up to Jan. 11, 2024. A continuing resolution is a temporary funding measure that ensures the government remains operational when a regular appropriations bill hasn't been finalized. Critics view continuing resolutions as a crutch, with the regular budgeting process consistently failing to produce spending bills in a timely manner.
2. In Step 2, Congress would have to pass a full-year spending bill for FY 2024 before the continuing resolution runs out.
This framework emphasizes the need to pass a full-year appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2024 by Jan. 11, 2024. This package would adhere to guidelines and funding levels set out in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt ceiling bill passed in the spring that set certain limits on discretionary spending. An on-time appropriations bill would prevent the necessity of successive continuing resolutions and ensure smooth government operation throughout the year.
3. In Step 3, the Problem Solvers’ plan calls for overhauls to reform the budgeting process to minimize future shutdown risk.
The current budgeting process has proven ineffective, as Congress has passed all its spending bills on time only four times since 1974. The Problem Solvers plan calls for the adoption of budget reform recommendations of the House Committee on Modernization and the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. This is designed to increase transparency, restore a “regular order” (the traditional process of policy formulation) and reduce the use of continuing resolutions as a stopgap measure.
4. In Step 4 of the framework, Congress would establish a commission to find ways to reduce the debt and deficit.
The caucus proposes the establishment of a new Fiscal Commission to review and recommend strategies to stabilize the nation's long-term deficits and debt, which recently passed a staggering $33 trillion. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office would be required to factor in the cost of servicing the national debt when it makes its future budgetary estimations.
5. The proposed continuing resolution includes a bipartisan compromise on funding for Ukraine “with transparency” and boosted border security.
Additional funding “with transparency” to support Ukraine in its war against Russia has been a major point of contention, with many Republicans demanding additional transparency on how the money is used and some even calling for a reduction or cessation in funding altogether. Likewise, many Republicans have called for funding to address the immigration crisis at the southern border.