Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2016
S. Con. Res. 11 (114th Congress)
(Adopted by Congress)
This was the first budget resolution to be adopted by both Houses of Congress after a lapse of five years, even though enforcement deeming resolutions had been adopted in each House to serve the purpose of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. The resolution itself was largely structured along the last year of the Chairmanship of Rep. Paul Ryan, though with a new House Chairman (Rep. Tom Price) and a new Senate Republican Majority, the end result was not very impressive.
This budget resolution avoided addressing the discretionary levels that had been set in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-25), which were far too low for President Obama to agree to, even though he had signed that Act into law. Knowing the levels would not be sustained, S. Con. Res. 11 (114th Congress) retained those amounts for the 302(a) allocation to the Appropriation Committees, and importantly, did not provide for any method by which they could be altered through additional negotiations between Congress and the President. This had been done previously, and through the budget resolution negotiation structure, had produced the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which addressed the discretionary spending levels for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. These negotiations over the fiscal year 2016 and 2017 budget levels were held anyway between Congressional Leadership and the President, bypassing the Budget Committees, which produced the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-74).
As a result of this omission in S. Con. Res. 11 (114th Congress), the fiscal year 2018 budget process turned into a disaster. Nothing procedural was done for the House in the BBA 2015, while a deeming resolution was put in place for the Senate by that Act, which never bodes well for the adoption of a budget resolution.
S. Con. Res. 11 (114th Congress) did spawn a reconciliation bill (under section 310 (CBA)) that turned into a basic repeal of many parts of President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”). That bill was vetoed, as it was intended to be, since it was more a political exercise than a budgetary one. With the budget committees again being shunted aside from any participation in their preparation, the budget resolution process was perceived as taking a different role: It was considered to be a means of producing reconciliation bills rather than an important blue print of the Congressional power over the resources of the United States.