The Hill: House freshmen seek bigger role in budget process
A bipartisan group of 20 House freshmen - mostly made up of Democrats — has told House leaders there's a better chance of reaching a House-Senate budget deal if they are allowed to play a larger role in the process.
In a letter released over the weekend, the freshmen implicitly criticized current leaders for breeding a partisan atmosphere on fiscal issues. Allowing freshman members to participate, they say, would help include people who are more willing to compromise.
"The people we represent demand and deserve better from their government, and we are committed to focusing on those areas of agreement that unite us — not refighting the same battles that have consumed the Congress in past years," they wrote to Republican and Democratic House leaders.
Last week, the House passed a Republican budget plan that calls for slower growth in federal spending and a balanced budget in 10 years. Early Saturday morning, the Senate approved a Democratic budget that does not balance and calls for $1 trillion in new taxes.
Reconciling these radically different budget visions will be difficult at best. But in their letter, the freshmen say they are "hopeful" some agreement can be reached, and said the chances of a deal are better if they are involved.
"As you know, the freshman class constitutes nearly a fifth of the House of Representatives," they wrote. "In addition to sheer numbers, we bring to the table fresh perspectives and a genuine desire to find common ground."
The group added that they are "deeply troubled by the fiscal trajectory of our country," and said they all want to promote growth; cut spending; create jobs; eliminate waste; reform the tax code and protect social programs.
"Perhaps most importantly, we hold a common commitment to working with members of both parties to realize these goals," they wrote. "It is long past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and negotiate a responsible compromise to address our fiscal challenges, and we believe the freshman class has a critical role to play in bridging the divide between the parties and forging united solutions."
Members signing the letter were Reps. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), John Delaney (D-Md.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Pete Gallego (D-Texas), Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Filemon Vela (D-Texas).