“Nobody has listened to the president in the 23 years that I’ve been here,” the Wyoming Republican said of previous presidential budget proposals. “Congress doesn’t pay attention to the president’s budget exercise. I don’t know why we put him through that.”
In explaining his decision not to hold a hearing for Trump’s budget, Enzi noted he also did not hold a hearing for President Barack Obama’s last budget. He also said the House will have a hearing this week with officials from the Office of Management and Budget, where people could get out their “dose of animosity.”
Enzi, who is retiring, painted a bleak image of the federal budget process, saying it’s “pretty hard to find anything positive with the funding situation that we’re in.” The deficit, or the gap between what the federal government spends and the revenue it takes in, is projected to exceed $1 trillion this year.
Enzi and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced a bill last year to revamp the federal budget process, which members of both parties have chalked up as dysfunctional at best.
The bill, which has advanced only out of the Senate Budget Committee, would move the budget resolution to a two-year cycle while maintaining annual appropriations.
It would also send separate debt-limit legislation directly to the president whenever Congress approves a budget resolution, automatically conforming the debt ceiling to levels called for in a budget resolution to avoid standoffs over the nation’s borrowing authority.
Enzi also lamented Congress’ reliance on stopgap spending bills to fund the government and a lack of momentum to tackle mandatory spending, which makes up the vast majority of the federal budget.
“Yeah, I don’t get invited to speak many places. It’s kind of depressing,” he said.
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.