Congressional Committees in the United States House of Representatives are like the gears that move the hands of the timepiece. Each committee has a role and function within the legislative system. Indeed, “Committees are the primary graveyard for most bills that die in Congress, yet it is upon the committees to select from the vast number of introduced bills that they feel merit further consideration” (Oleszek, 94). I will now explain how bills become laws in the United States Congress, and I will demonstrate how the Committee on the Budget factors into this process.
The process of how a bill becomes law can be narrated as a circular process by which “many bills travel full circle, coming first from the White House as part of the presidential agenda, then returning to the president at the end of the process” (Edwards, 371). Committees in both the House and Senate “may amend or rewrite the bill, before deciding whether to send it to the floor, to recommend its approval, or to kill it” (Edwards, 371). If approved, the bill will be reported for floor action and placed on the calendar for debate, amendments and vote. If the bill is passed in different versions of both the House and Senate, then a Conference Committee will “meet to iron out the differences between the bills” (Edwards, 371). After the Conference Committee has struck an accord and drafted a single compromise bill, then it will be sent back to both upper and lower houses of Congress for a vote. From there the Full House and Full Senate vote on the Conference Committee’s version of the bill. If the bill is passed, it will progress to the desk of the President of the United States and His Excellency may authorize it or veto it. “Congress may override Presidential Veto by 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate” (Edwards, 371). This is the system by which legislations are processed in the bicameral legislature of the United States of America.
The House Committee on the Budget is a Standing Committee. Both chambers of congress have Standing Committees, and each committee handles bills in different policy areas. “In Congress today, the typical representative serves on 2 committees and 4 sub-committees; senators average 3 committees and 7 sub-committees” (Edwards, 363). The Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget is Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. Committee Chairmen are profoundly influential in Congress and “they play dominant roles in scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing sub-committees, and managing committee bills when they are brought before the full house” (Edwards, 366). Besides being Chairman of that committee, Rep. Ryan is also a member of the Committee on Ways and Means and the Sub-Committee on Health. In the C-SPAN video Rep. Ryan can be seen leading the 2012 Budget Resolution Markup, a meeting to consider a Republican federal budget proposal for the fiscal year of 2012 called “The Path to Prosperity”. Markups take place after hearings have concluded, and “at this session committee members decided whether the legislation should be rewritten, either in whole or in part” (Oleszek, 117). The Budget Resolution is a Concurrent Resolution, meaning that it is not law and the President does not need to sign it. Budget Committees are, however, part of both the House and Senate. The Budget Act of 1974 “created a process for coordinating the actions of the appropriations, authorizing, and tax committees by passing a preliminary budget resolution setting nonbinding targets for expenditures and revenues” (Smith, 383). The need for congress to strengthen its own budget-making capabilities arose during the Nixon administration due to “intense battles with the Democratic Congress over spending cuts and taxes” (Smith, 383). This attainment does not mean that the Congressional Budget Committees can disperse funds as they see fit, rather their task is to develop a budget allocation plan. It is up to the Congressional Committees on Appropriations to pass authorization and appropriations bills because they control spending and have ‘power of the purse’.
Chairman Ryan states that it is the Budget Committee’s “commitment to the American people” to get the country’s fiscal policy back on track. He asserts that President Obama’s dishonesty to civil society and unsustainable policies will lead to “painful austerity” and a debt crisis in the near future if the country remains with the “status quo” (C-SPAN). I believe that only time can narrate the effects of decisions made by political leaders. Chairman Ryan of the United States House Committee on the Budget wants to lead this nation back on “The Path of Prosperity” with his Budget Resolution, however, history will be the judge of that…
"2012 Budget Resolution Markup, Part 1." House Committee Budget. C-SPAN: Apr. 6, 2011.
Edwards, First, First Wattenberg, and First Lineberry. Government in America. 11th Ed. Harlow,
England: Pearson Longman, 2010. Print.
Oleszek, Walter. Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process. 8th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ
Press, 2011. Print.
Smith, Steven. The American Congress. 7th ed. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011.