Joint Study Committee on Budget Control
Joint Study Committee on Budget Control—This Committee was established on October 27, 1972 by Pub. L. 92-599 (86 Stat. 1324). The Committee was charged with studying procedures on the budget and federal expenditures. The joint study committee submitted its final report and was terminated on April 18, 1973. It reviewed congressional budgetary processes and laid the groundwork for what eventually became the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
The Joint Study Committee on Budget Control consisted of 32 members, 16 from each Chamber, appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate. Seven House Members and seven Senate Members were appointed from the Appropriations Committees, the same number were appointed from the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, and two additional Members from each Chamber were appointed. The main task of the Joint Study Committee, as set forth in Section 301(b) of P.L. 92–599, was to report by February 15, 1973 on a:
. . . full study and review of . . . the procedures which should be adopted by the Congress for the purpose of improving congressional control of budgetary outlay and receipt totals, including procedures for establishing and maintaining an overall view of each year’s budgetary outlays which is fully coordinated with an overall view of the anticipated revenues for that year. . . .’’ [Pub. L. 92-599, Sec. 301, 86 Stat. 1324]
[Senate Budget Committee, Committee on the Budget, United States Senate 1974–2006, Government Publishing Office, Washington, 2006, p. 28.]
S. Con. Res. 8 (93rd Congress) for the designation, administration, and expenses of the Joint Study Committee. Agreed to February 27, 1973 .
Testimony of Hubert Humphrey to the Joint Study Committee on Budget Control (Washington, D.C. , March 6, 1973).
Reports of the Joint Committee
(1) Report from the Joint Study Committee on Budget Control (S. Rept. 93-17) Washington, D.C., February 7, 1973 (Interim Report).
(2) Improving Congressional Control Over Budgetary Outlay and Receipt Totals; Interim Report, H. Rept. 93–13, Feb. 7, 1973.
(3) Recommendations for Improving Congressional Control Over Budgetary Outlay and Receipt Totals, H. Rept. 93–147, Apr. 18, 1973.
The primary purpose of the law establishing the Joint Committee on Budget Control was to provide for an temporary increase in the public debt limit. As title III of the Act, it also established the Committee:
To Provide for a temporary increase in the public debt limit and to place a limitation on expenditures and net lending for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1973.
TITLE III—JOINT COMMITTEE TO REVIEW OPERATION
OF BUDGET CEILING AND TO RECOMMEND PROCEDURES
FOR IMPROVING CONGRESSIONAL CONTROL
OVER BUDGETARY OUTLAY AND RECEIPT TOTALS
Sec. 301. (a) There is hereby established a joint committee composed of thirty-two members appointed as follows:
(1) seven members from the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
(2) seven members from the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
(3) two additional Members of the House of Representatives, one from the majority party, and one from the minority party, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
(4) seven members of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate;
(5) seven members of the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate; and (6) two additional Members of the Senate, one from the majority party, and one from the minority party, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate. No person appointed by reason of his membership on any of the committees referred to in paragraphs (1), (2), (4), and (5) shall continue to serve as a member of the joint committee after he has ceased to be a member of that committee from which he was chosen, except that the members chosen from the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives who have been reelected to the House of Representatives may continue to serve as members of the joint committee notwithstanding the expiration of the Congress. A vacancy in the joint committee shall not affect the power of the remaining members to execute the functions of the joint committee, and shall be filled in the same manner as the original selection.
(b) The joint committee created by subsection (a) shall make a full study and review of—
(1) the procedures which should be adopted by the Congress for the purpose of improving congressional control of budgetary outlay and receipt totals, including procedures for establishing and maintaining an overall view of each year’s budgetary outlays which is fully coordinated with an overall view of the anticipated revenues for that year, and
(2) the operation of the limitation on expenditures and net lending imposed by section 201 of this Act for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1973. The joint committee shall report the results of such study and review to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate, not later than February 15, 1973.
(c)(1) The chairman of the joint committee shall be selected by chairman. the members of the joint committee.
(2) The joint committee is authorized to appoint such staff, and to request such assistance from the existing staffs of the Congress, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.
(d) The expenses of the joint committee, which shall not exceed $100,000 through February 28,1973, shall be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate upon vouchers approved by the chairman of the joint committee.
(e) The joint committee shall cease to exist at the close of the first session of the Ninety-third Congress.
Sec. 302. For purposes of paragraph 6 of rule XXV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, service of a Senator as a member of the joint committee, or as chairman of the joint committee, shall not be taken into account.
From the Congressional Quarterly Almanac:
Joint Study Committee
Hearings. The Joint Study Committee on Budget Control, which was established by Congress in 1972, held hearings in March on congressional budget procedures. In preliminary recommendations, Feb. 7, the committee had proposed the creation of a mechanism by which Congress could set ceilings on both spending and appropriations for each fiscal year.
Finding general agreement with its conclusion that Congress should create its own mechanism for controling federal spending, the study committee March 6–9 began looking at the details of how to go about it.
“The question is not whether it must be done, but how,” Federal Reserve Board Chairman Arthur F. Burns told the joint committee as it opened hearings March 6.
“If you can develop procedures that will enable members of Congress to vote on an over-all fiscal policy that adequately reflects congressional priorities, you will revitalize representative government in this country,” Burns added.
Burns, Comptroller General Elmer B. Staats and members of Congress who testified during the week’s hearings voiced approval of the committee’s tentative recommendations for reforming the way Congress handles the federal budget.
The more difficult task, witnesses agreed, would be to develop workable congressional procedures to implement those goals. In Burns’ words, “…procedures must… be developed to assure reasonable compliance with the ceilings” on appropriations and outlays for each fiscal year recommended by the budget committee.
Burns and Staats discussed alternative procedures for consideration by the joint committee, and more than 15 members of Congress testified on behalf of various legislative proposals for budgetary reform.
Burns called for greater cooperation between Congress and the executive branch in drawing up the federal budget, including a role for Congress in preparation of the President’s recommendations.
“In the long run, there would seem to be no political advantage to either the executive or the Congress in battling over budgetary prerogatives,” Burns asserted, “particularly if the result is bad budgets.”
“Let peace be declared,” Burns said. “Let Congress play a greater role in reviewing the budget, and perhaps even become involved in the preparation of the budget.”
Members of Congress had complained that the administration denied Congress access to the budget proposals submitted by federal agencies to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which prepared the President’s over-all budget. As a result, members said, Congress could study each department’s request only after OMB had tailored it to the administration’s over-all budget priorities.
Burns said eight states had established means for involving their legislatures in budget preparation, “generally through a board most of whose members are legislators.”
In improving its budget process, Burns suggested, “it may be that the federal government could usefully adopt some of the techniques of the states, where budgets are subject to a relatively firm discipline.”
One method by which states exercise fiscal restraint “is by granting considerably larger power to the governors than the Congress has granted to the President,” Burns said, noting that some governors had the power to veto individual spending items in appropriations bills.
“Although Congress has made it clear that it does not wish to emulate the states by strengthening the powers of the executive branch to trim total outlays to acceptable levels,” Burns added, “procedures that produce deficits that the Congress itself does not desire invite corrective action by the executive.”
Burns repeated his support for the concept of “zero-base budgeting,” under which a federal program’s entire appropriations request would be reviewed annually.
Under existing procedure, Burns explained, program officials “have had to justify only the increase they seek above last year’s level. Substantial savings could undoubtedly be realized if both the administration and the Congress treated each appropriation request as if it were for a new program.”
Burns endorsed provisions of a bill (S 40) introduced by Sen. Bill Brock (R Tenn.) limiting authorization of any major spending program to three years and requiring detailed evaluation of the program’s performance before it could be extended beyond three years.
Staats, a former Bureau of the Budget official, made suggestions based on his experience in the executive branch and as head of the General Accounting Office, an agency of Congress that investigates on request the performance of federal programs.
The executive branch could help Congress determine annual appropriations and spending totals, Staats suggested, by:
- Submitting detailed analyses of relatively uncontrollable outlays, broken down by programs within the jurisdiction of each congressional committee and subcommittee.
- Providing an analysis of how much of the over-all spending total projected in each year’s budget falls within the jurisdiction of each committee and subcommittee.
The GAO, Staats added, could help Congress set budget priorities by analyzing agency budget justifications, by providing staff assistance for proposed budget committees, and by obtaining and analyzing data on federal programs.
The GAO staff could help relate appropriations requests to actual expenditures for each fiscal year and the following three to five years, Staats suggested.