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House Rule and Interim Budget Enforcement

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Washington, Jan 3, 2011 | comments
  • Brief Description.  The House Rules package gives the Budget Committee chairman interim authority that only applies to the FY 2011 budget to file committee allocations and budget aggregates that would serve as the budget until Congress adopts a new budget.  These allocations and aggregates would be enforced in the House through Budget Act points of order.  Unless we do something in House Rules, we will operate without a budget. 

  • Standard Practice. The House has routinely included language in the rules package to extend the previous year’s budget until Congress can adopt a new budget.   Because no budget was adopted last year, there is nothing to extend.  In 1999, there was no budget resolution adopted the previous year and the Chairman was given similar authority as in this rules package. 

  • Necessary due to Democrats’ Failure to Budget.  After an explosion in spending and two consecutive years of trillion dollar deficits, House Democrats failed to even propose a budget for the current fiscal year -- the first time this has happened since 1974, when the modern congressional budget process was established. 

  • Absent this authority, no controls on spending and deficits.  It now falls to the 112th Congress to develop a budget for the U.S. government, yet there is currently no budget enforcement mechanism to account for taxpayer dollars. Without a budget, the Federal government will continue to operate with no priorities and no restraints, while our fiscal and economic challenges continue to mount.

  • Description of the Authority.  The proposed House Rules would give the Chairman of the Budget Committee the authority to file temporary budget allocations to committees (known as section 302(a) allocations).  It would also provide authority for the Chairman to set total spending and revenue levels.   This is temporary authority that lasts until adoption of the budget later this year and it only applies to the FY 2011 budget.  Legislation that violates the committee allocations or the budget aggregates is subject to points of order under the Budget Act. 

  • Advance Pledge’s Commitment to Spending Restraint.  Congress bases its budget levels on Congressional Budget Office estimates and projections. We will not get CBO’s revised baseline projections until the end of January. When we get those projections, as outlined in the House Republicans’ Pledge to America, Chairman Ryan plans to file a discretionary spending limit (the section 302(a) allocation) that would take non-security spending back to its pre-bailout, pre-stimulus spending levels. Other Federal spending and revenue levels will be established as outlined in the Congressional Budget Office’s forthcoming baseline, with the adjustments provided in the Rules package to prevent taxes from rising and to make possible a repeal of the costly health care overhaul.

  • Voters in November soundly rejected the relentless spending and fiscal malpractice of the past Congress. Getting a grip on this year's spending is only the first step in addressing our long term budget challenges -- but it's a step we must take, and we must start now.

This document was prepared by the Republican staff of the Committee on the Budget, U.S. House of Representatives. It has not been approved by the full committee and may not reflect the views of individual committee members.

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