House to hold marathon 2020 budget hearings

House of Representatives

MEMBERS of the House of Representatives will hold marathon sessions to pass the national budget bill on time.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the House will hold plenary session from 3 pm. to 5 pm, Monday to Wednesday to give the House committee on appropriations ample time to discuss the proposed budget of different agencies.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also made the same announcement during the official submission of the proposed budget by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 is P4.1 trillion or 12 percent higher than 2019 budget of P3.8 trillion.

“The House members are in full agreement that we all have to work day and night from Monday to Friday to make sure that we approve the 2020 General Appropriations Act by October this year,” Romualdez said.          

He said they plan to finish the budget deliberation in the bicameral level by early December.

The committee, chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, is set meet Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Romualdez noted that House leaders also decided to extend the session days in the House past the regular Monday to Wednesday schedule to allow exhaustive deliberation of the budget at the plenary level. 

“We are also extending our session days beginning September 12. We will hold plenary sessions even on Thursdays and Fridays to make sure that the national budget will get the House members’ nod on time,” the House leader said.

Romualdez said he had also approved the request of appropriations panel chairman Ungab to allow the holding of committee hearings on the budget even after the plenary proceedings have started at 5 p.m.

Under Section 71 of the House Rules, congressmen are deemed present in a House session if they are attending committee meetings authorized by the House committee on rules, which is currently chaired by Romualdez as Majority Leader.

Section 35 of the House Rules, on the other hand, provides that: “Only the committee on rules and such committees to which it has granted permission, may meet while the House is in plenary session, has adjourned, or is in recess.”

“Under these rules, the committee on appropriations may continue with their  budget hearings while the House is in plenary session. We are invoking the powers of the Majority Leader, as Rules Chairman, to enable the House to tackle simultaneously all the vital measures included in the President’s legislative agenda,” Romualdez explained.