Cyclopedia of Congressional Budget Law

Emergencies Under Section 4 of S-Paygo


The term emergency, when used in budget law, indicates a form of spending that is given special treatment due the circumstances under which it is provided, or the purposes to which it is directed.

For spending under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, it means that the direct spending and revenue impacts of provisions in legislation that are designated as emergency requirements under the act are not counted as budgetary effects (Section 4(g)(4)). Section 4 of the act sets forth procedures for the House and Senate to deal with the issue of designating provisions as emergency requirements. In the House, the chair must “put the question of consideration” prior to the chamber taking any action on a measure including an emergency PAYGO designation. If the House votes affirmatively on the question, then it may proceed to consider the measure. The House also uses the question of consideration as the means of enforcing its internal PAYGO rule. In the Senate, an emergency PAYGO designation may be stricken from a measure by a point of order. To waive the point of order, or to sustain the appeal of the ruling of the chair on a point of order, the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn (60 Senators, if no seats are vacant), must be obtained.28 In this case, the point of order can be applied in a manner so that if successful, the offending provision is stricken but the consideration of the measure (or the conference report thereon) is not defeated. [Derived from CRS Report: See The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010: Summary and Legislative History(R41157) September 13, 2010.

Statutory Pay-As-You-GO Act of 2010

(g) Emergency Legislation.—

(1) Designation in statute.—If a provision of direct spending or revenue legislation in a PAYGO Act is enacted as an emergency requirement that the Congress so designates in statute pursuant to this section, the amounts of new budget authority, outlays, and revenue in all fiscal years resulting from that provision shall be treated as an emergency requirement for the purposes of this Act.

(2) Designation in the house of representatives.—If a PAYGO Act includes a provision expressly designated as an emergency for the purposes of this title, the Chair shall put the question of consideration with respect thereto.

(3) Point of order in the senate.—

(A) In general.—When the Senate is considering a PAYGO Act, if a point of order is made by a Senator against an emergency designation in that measure, that provision making such a designation shall be stricken from the measure and may not be offered as an amendment from the floor.

(B) Supermajority waiver and appeals.—

(i) Waiver.—Subparagraph (A) may be waived or suspended in the Senate only by an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members, duly chosen and sworn.

(ii) Appeals.—Appeals in the Senate from the decisions of the Chair relating to any provision of this subsection shall be limited to 1 hour, to be equally divided between, and controlled by, the appellant and the manager of the bill or joint resolution, as the case may be. An affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members of the Senate, duly chosen and sworn, shall be required to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the Chair on a point of order raised under this subsection.

(C) Definition of an emergency designation.—For purposes of subparagraph (A), a provision shall be considered an emergency designation if it designates any item as an emergency requirement pursuant to this subsection.

(D) Form of point of order—A point of order under subparagraph (A) may be raised by a Senator as provided in section 313(e) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.[5]

(E) Conference reports.—When the Senate is considering a conference report on, or an amendment between the Houses in relation to, a PAYGO Act, upon a point of order being made by any Senator pursuant to this section, and such point of order being sustained, such material contained in such conference report shall be deemed stricken, and the Senate shall proceed to consider the question of whether the Senate shall recede from its amendment and concur with a further amendment, or concur in the House amendment with a further amendment, as the case may be, which further amendment shall consist of only that portion of the conference report or House amendment, as the case may be, not so stricken. Any such motion in the Senate shall be debatable. In any case in which such point of order is sustained against a conference report (or Senate amendment derived from such conference report by operation of this subsection), no further amendment shall be in order.

(4) Effect of designation on scoring.—If a provision is designated as an emergency requirement under this Act, CBO or OMB, as applicable, shall not include the budgetary effects of such a provision in its estimate of the budgetary effects of that PAYGO legislation.[6]


[5] Section 313 of the Budget Act, (“the Byrd Rule”), sets out a procedure by which extraneous provisions are stricken from a bill or joint resolution in the Senate considered under the “reconciliation” process as set forth in section 310 of the Budget Act. A provision deemed “extraneous” is removed but the measure continues to be considered. It may be waived by 60 votes.

[6] Provisions designated as emergencies under this subsection are not entered on S-Paygo scorecards and are not counted for purposes of clause 10 of rule XXI in the House (Cutgo).

Example of Emergency Designation in Legislation

The Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria Education Relief Act of 2017 (Pub. L. 115-64) was enacted on September 29, 2017. It included the following emergency designation to prevent the spending and revenue effects caused by its enactment from being entered onto the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Scorecards:

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(c) Emergency Requirement.—This section is designated as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 4(g) of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (title I of Public Law 111-139; 2 U.S.C. 933(g)).


Elastic Clause


Entitlement Authority