Budget Process Reform

Budget and Accounting Transparency Act of 2014
(H.R. 1872)
Full Bill Text | Manager's Amendment | Vote Tally | Report Text


This bill increases transparency in federal budgeting by ensuring the full cost of federal credit programs are included in the budget and in cost estimates for the legislation. The Budget Committee reported very similar legislation in 2012. The House subsequently passed the bill 245–180, which included the support of several Democrats.

Major Provisions

  • Brings federal budgeting in line with private-sector cost-estimating practices. It requires the executive branch and Congress to use “fair value” accounting when estimating the cost of federal credit programs. For programs offering loans or loan guarantees, both the borrowing costs and the risk the federal government is incurring must be considered.

  • Requires CBO and OMB to conduct a study on extending this “fair value” methodology to federal insurance programs, which are currently accounted for on a cash-flow basis.

  • Brings Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on-budget to recognize the budgetary impact of these housing-related government-sponsored enterprises. Since the financial crisis, these enterprises have become the explicit financial responsibility of the federal government, and these reforms would ensure the budget reflected the financial implications.

  • Requires CBO and OMB to conduct a study on the use of budgetary terms related to money collected by the federal government, which has become jumbled and inconsistent over the decades.

  • Requires agencies to make public the budgetary-justification materials prepared in support of their request for use of taxpayer dollars.

Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act of 2014

(H.R. 1869)
Full Bill Text | Manager's Amendment | Vote Tally | Report Text


Last year was the first time in four years the Senate has passed a budget resolution. Congress has not completed all of the individual appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year (October 1) in 20 years. This bill establishes a biennial budget and appropriations cycle that would allow Congress to focus on budgeting and appropriating in one year and program authorizations and oversight in the second year. In addition, it would provide more certainty in the budget and appropriations process and allow agencies to plan and manage their programs more effectively.

Major Provisions

  • The bill amends the Congressional Budget Act, House rules, and the laws regarding the President’s budget submission and appropriations bills. It provides for a two-year budget, appropriations, and authorization process.

  • In odd-numbered years, Congress would adopt a budget resolution that would provide annual levels for at least a five-year period. The resolution would include an allocation to the appropriations committees for each of the years in the two-year period (biennium).

  • The Appropriations Committee would complete appropriations bills in odd-numbered years that would contain appropriations for each of the years in the biennium.

  • Even-numbered years would be reserved for Congressional oversight and Congressional consideration of authorization legislation. The bill requires authorization bills to have at least a term of two years.

  • The bill does not prohibit the consideration of supplemental appropriations or rescissions to appropriations in the second year of the biennium.


Baseline Reform Act of 2013
(H.R. 1871)
Bill Text | Report Text


Under current law, the baseline assumes higher spending each year. Discretionary accounts are annually increased by inflation and a number of other factors. This legislation removes the pro-spending bias.

Major Provisions

  • Removes the assumption that discretionary spending will increase by inflation in each year of the baseline. This assumption added approximately $1. trillion in outlays (over 10 years) to the discretionary baseline.

  • Removes the exceptions to the general inflationary rule for expiring housing contracts, social-insurance administrative expenses, and annualization of federal-employee pay. 

  • Codifies CBO’s current practice of providing a long-term budget outlook no later than July 1 each year.

  • Doesn’t change the way the mandatory or revenue baselines are calculated.

Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2013
(H.R. 1874)
Bill Text | Report Text


This bill requires CBO to prepare an analysis of the effect that major legislation would have on the U.S. economy. This macroeconomic-impact analysis would be supplemental information in addition to the official congressional cost estimate of the legislation.   

Major Provisions

  • Requires committee reports to include a CBO analysis of major legislation that includes an estimate of the legislation’s impact on gross domestic product (GDP), business investment, capital stock, employment, interest rates, and labor supply. This analysis must also include an estimate of the legislation’s potential fiscal impact, including any changes in tax revenues resulting from changes in GDP.

  • Requires CBO to submit a statement identifying critical assumptions and sources of data underlying the estimate.

  • Defines major legislation as any estimated by CBO to have a budgetary effect of at least 0.25 percent of annual GDP (approximately $43 billion in 2014) in any year within the 10-year budget window. (A preliminary staff review has not identified any bills that would have triggered the analysis requirement during the first session of the 113th Congress.)

  • Requires these analyses to cover the 10-year budget window and the subsequent 30-year period.