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Senator Dan Coats Introduces Bill To Establish Fiscal Commission

Sep 30, 2016 | Budget Process

Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) introduced the ‘‘Mandatory Bureaucratic Realignment and Consolidation Commission Act of 2016’’ (or the ‘‘Mandatory BRACC Act’’) earlier this month. The bill, in the spirit of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles), would establish a commission made up of twelve individuals appointed by the President and Congress to make recommendations to Congress on ways to reduce federal spending in order to balance the budget by 2027.

In contrast to Simpson-Bowles, which included Members of Congress, this commission would be comprised solely of private citizens. Recommendations passed by the commission would receive consideration in Congress - no later than 60 legislative days after they are introduced. If Congress did not enact the commission’s recommendations or alternative changes to achieve the goal of balance, a spending cap would automatically limit the growth of total spending to three percent above the previous year, enforced by a sequester of all spending. It would eliminate all exclusions and limits on sequestration in the process.

The proposal put forward by Senator Coats is meant to be a call to action for lawmakers and a way to put pressure on Congress to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the long-term debt, like the fiscal commission bill recently put forward by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and David Perdue (R-GA). The bill is a version of one of the recommendations put forward by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) this summer, a recommendation he discussed at the budget process reform event we hosted last week.

Maya MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said about the bill:

Senator Coats’ Mandatory BRACC bill, similar to the Base Realignment and Closure commission, would force action to solve a tough problem instead of kicking the can down the road yet again. With little pavement left, we need more leaders like Senator Coats with the courage and political will to step up now before it is too late. I encourage other policymakers to take this proposal seriously or put forward their own plans to address the long-term debt.

Earlier this month, Coats, who is Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, hosted a hearing focused on the debt featuring three of our board members. This bill is an important reminder of the need to address our growing fiscal problems and  another positive step to encourage other policymakers to take this issue seriously.

For more information on our ideas for reforming the budget process, please see our Better Budget Process Initiative.