A special committee Congress created to reform its dysfunctional budget process succumbed to dysfunction of its own Thursday and disbanded without producing results.
Lawmakers of both parties lamented the failure, even as each side claimed the other was to blame.
“I am extremely disappointed in our failure and in my colleagues who lacked the ‘political will’ we have preached is so needed in Washington to vote out this good, bipartisan proposal,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), a co-chair of the committee. “Their votes were on politics, not product, and proved us deserving of Congress’s low approval rating.”
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), the other co-chair, said it was “deeply disappointing” the panel had failed to reach an agreement.
The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform was created this year as part of an overdue budget deal that provoked widespread criticism from lawmakers, who lamented Congress’s perennially tardy budget and spending bills. Promoted by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), it was tasked with coming up with recommendations to reform the process.
The committee, which had 16 members, developed several proposals, most of them minor. The most significant recommendation was to move from annual to biennial congressional budgets.
But in the end it broke down over process disputes, and only seven members voted for the package Thursday.
“It is my hope that members from both chambers and parties can build on the foundation this important select committee laid and that we can continue to work towards meaningful reforms to improve the budget and appropriations process,” Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Thursday.
The panel will now cease to exist.