Listen To The Story


TESS VIGELAND: Today a congressional committee takes another stab at overhauling federal budget rules to reign in spending. Up for discussion: setting up special commissions to decide thumbs up or thumbs down on government programs. Programs that don't pass muster could be eliminated. John Dimsdale has more from Washington.

JOHN DIMSDALE: They're called sunset commissions.

Experts appointed by the president would review government programs for waste or duplication. The commissions could recommend reorganization, consolidation or even abolition of agencies and spending programs.

A sponsor of the commissions, Republican Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, says they'll help save taxpayers' money.

TODD TIAHRT: There are areas where Congress simply doesn't have the time to go to the limits that are necessary to find out what's broke with an agency and how to fix it.

But one budget watchdog, Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Budget, doesn't expect outside experts will hold much sway over Congress.

MAYA MACGUINEAS: In the end a sunset commission is very unlikely to have any dramatic effect on the bottom line of the budget. Congress would better spend their time focusing on other, bigger challenges.

Supporters of sunset commissions hope to see their proposal on the House floor next week.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.