H. Con. Res. 71 (115th Congress)

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for
Fiscal Year 2018

sec. 501. policy statement on a balanced budget amendment.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) In fiscal year 2017, the Federal Government will collect approximately $3.3 trillion in taxes, but spend more than $4.0 trillion to maintain its operations, borrowing 15 cents of every Federal dollar spent.

(2) At the end of fiscal year 2016, the national debt of the United States was more than $19.5 trillion.

(3) A majority of States have petitioned the Federal Government to hold a constitutional convention to adopt a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

(4) As of the spring of 2016, 46 States have requirements to annually balance their respective budgets.

(5) Numerous balanced budget amendment proposals have been introduced on a bipartisan basis in the House. Currently in the 115th Congress, joint resolutions proposing a balanced budget amendment have been introduced.

(6) In the 111th Congress, the House considered H. J. Res. 2, sponsored by Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia. Although it received 262 aye votes, it did not receive the two-thirds required for passage.

(7) In 1995, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution passed the House with bipartisan support, but failed to pass by one vote in the United States Senate.

(8) Five States, Georgia, Alaska, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Arizona, have agreed to the Compact for a Balanced Budget, which seeks to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget through an Article V convention by April 12, 2021.

(b) Policy On A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should propose a balanced budget constitutional amendment for ratification by the States.

sec. 502. policy statement on budget process reform.

It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should enact legislation that reforms the congressional budget process to—

(1) reassert congressional control over the budget process by reorienting the Views and Estimates that committees submit to the Committee on the Budget, as required under 301(d) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, to emphasize congressional rather than executive branch priorities;

(2) strengthen enforcement of budgetary rules and requirements by—

(A) enabling Members of the House of Representatives to enforce budget requirements in a manner that does not jeopardize the ability of the majority to work its will on legislation; and

(B) permitting members of Congress to determine whether emergency-designated appropriations are for unanticipated situations that pose a threat to life, property, or national security;

(3) increase control over the costs of Federal activities by—

(A) incorporating debt service costs into cost estimates prepared by the Congressional Budget Office;

(B) establishing a process for setting limits on the amount of debt incurred by the Federal Government from the private sector as a share of the economy that requires congressional action if such limits deviate from those previously determined by Congress and the President;

(C) transitioning to fair-value accounting;

(D) budgeting for Federal insurance programs on an accrual basis; and

(E) developing and implementing a regulatory budget as provided in section 503;

(4) achieve greater control over mandatory spending by reforming reconciliation procedures and requirements to ensure they are transparent, objectively applied, and maximize opportunities for deficit reduction;

(5) increase the efficiency of the congressional budget process by—

(A) realigning the budget cycle with the calendar year and the congressional calendar;

(B) simplifying the procedures by which the Committee on Appropriations adjusts its section 302(b) suballocations to ensure they are consistent with the Committee’s overall section 302(a) allocation; and

(C) increasing congressional accountability for budget decisions;

(6) improve the transparency of the Federal Government’s obligations by—

(A) modifying the content of the budget resolution to reflect the budgetary decisions that Congress actually makes and enforces;

(B) requiring the Comptroller General to periodically report to Congress on the consolidated financial report of the Federal Government; and (C) restructuring the baseline, as set forth in section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, to treat mandatory spending and revenue on a comparable basis; and

(7) achieve control over long-term budget obligations by—

(A) establishing declining limits on the amount of debt incurred by the Federal Government from the private sector as a share of the economy that requires congressional action if such limits deviate from those previously determined by Congress and the President; and

(B) codifying limits on the amount legislation can increase the deficit beyond the ten fiscal-year period of the concurrent resolution on the budget.

sec. 503. policy statement on federal regulatory budgeting and reform.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Federal regulations are estimated to cost $1.9 trillion per year or approximately $15,000 perhousehold. Such costs exceed 10 percent of theGross Domestic Product of the United States.

(2) Excessive Federal regulation—

(A) retards job creation, investment, wages, competition, and economic growth, slowing the Nation’s recovery from economic recession and harming American households;

(B) operates as a regressive tax on poor and lower-income households;

(C) displaces workers into long-term unemployment or lower-paying jobs;

(D) adversely affects small businesses, the primary source of new jobs; and

(E) impedes the economic growth necessary to provide sufficient funds to meet vital commitments and reduce the Federal debt.

(3) Federal agencies do not systematically analyze both the costs and benefits of new regulations or identify and eliminate, minimize, or mitigate excess regulatory costs through post-implementation assessments of their regulations.

(4) Agencies too often impose costly regulations without relying on sound science, through the use of agency guidance, judicial consent decrees, and settlement agreements, and through the abuse of high interim compliance costs imposed on regulated entities that bring legal challenges against newly promulgated regulations.

(5) Congress lacks an effective mechanism to manage the level of new Federal regulatory costs imposed each year. Other nations, meanwhile, have successfully implemented the use of regulatory budgeting to control excess regulation and regulatory costs.

(6) Significant steps have been taken already by President Trump and the 115th Congress, including the imposition of a regulatory pay-as-you-go regimen for new and revised regulations by the Trump Administration and the enactment of measures under the Congressional Review Act that repealed regulations promulgated in the final 60 legislative days of the 114th Congress.

(b) Policy on Federal Regulatory Budgeting and Reform.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should, in consultation with the public, consider legislation that—

(1) requires the President’s budget submission to include an analysis of the costs of complying with current and proposed regulations;

(2) builds the institutional capacity of the Congressional Budget Office to develop a regulatory baseline and estimate regulatory costs;

(3) codifies the Trump Administration’s regulatory pay-as-you-go requirements, which require agencies to offset the costs of new or revised regulations with the repeal or modification of existing regulations; and

(4) requires Federal agencies to give notice and allow for comments on proposed guidance documents.

sec. 504. policy statement on unauthorized appropriations.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Article I of the Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress.

(2) Central to the legislative powers of Congress is the authorization of appropriations necessary to execute the laws that establish agencies and programs and impose obligations.

(3) Clause 2 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives prohibits the consideration of appropriations measures that provide appropriations for unauthorized programs.

(4) In fiscal year 2016, more than $310 billion was appropriated for unauthorized programs, spanning 256 separate laws.

(5) Agencies such as the Department of State have not been authorized for 15 years.

(6) The House adopted a requirement for the 115th Congress, as part of H. Res. 5, that requires each standing committee of the House to adopt an authorization and oversight plan that enumerates all unauthorized programs and agencies within its jurisdiction that received funding in the prior year, among other oversight requirements.

(b) Policy on Unauthorized Appropriations.—

In the House, it is the policy of this concurrent resolution that legislation should be enacted that—

(1) establishes a schedule for reauthorizing all Federal programs on a staggered five-year basis together with declining spending targets for each year a program is not reauthorized according to such schedule;

(2) prohibits the consideration of appropriations measures in the House that provide appropriations in excess of spending targets specified for such measures and ensures that such rule should be strictly enforced; and

(3) limits funding for non-defense or non-security-related Federal programs that are not reauthorized according the schedule described in paragraph (1).

sec. 505. policy statement on federal accounting.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Current accounting methods fail to capture and present in a compelling manner the full scope of the Federal Government and its fiscal condition.

(2) Most fiscal analyses produced by the Congressional Budget Office (‘‘CBO’’) are conducted over a 10-fiscal year period. The use of generational accounting or a longer time horizon would provide a more complete picture of the Federal Government’s fiscal condition.

(3) The Federal budget currently accounts for most programs on a cash accounting basis, which records revenue and expenses when cash is actually paid or received. However, it accounts for loan and loan guarantee programs on an accrual basis, which records revenue when earned and expenses when incurred.

(4) The Government Accountability Office has advised that accrual accounting may be more accurate than cash accounting in estimating the Federal Government’s liabilities for insurance and other programs.

(5) Accrual accounting under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (‘‘FCRA’’) understates the risk and thus the true cost of some Federal pro2grams, including loans and loan guarantees.

(6) Fair-value accounting better reflects the risk associated with Federal loan and loan guarantee programs by using a market based discount rate. CBO, for example, uses fair-value accounting to measure the cost of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).

(7) In comparing fair-value accounting to FCRA, CBO has concluded that ‘‘adopting a fairvalue approach would provide a more comprehensive way to measure the costs of Federal credit programs and would permit more level comparisons between those costs and the costs of other forms of Federal assistance’’.

(8) The Department of the Treasury, when reporting the principal financial statements of the United States entitled Balance Sheet and Statement of Operations and Changes in Net Position, may omit some of the largest projected Federal Government expenses, including social insurance programs. The projected expenses of these programs are reported by the Department in its Statements of Social Insurance and Changes in Social Insurance Amounts.

(9) This concurrent resolution directs CBO to estimate the costs of Federal credit programs on a fair-value basis to fully capture the risk associated with these programs.

(b) Policy on Federal Accounting Methodologies.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should, in consultation with CBO and other appropriate stakeholders, reform government-wide budget and accounting practices so Members and the public can better understand the fiscal condition of the United States and the best options to improve it. Such reforms may include the following:

(1) Providing additional metrics to enhance analysis by considering the Nation’s fiscal condition comprehensively, over an extended time period, and how it affects Americans of various age cohorts.

(2) Expanding the use of accrual accounting where appropriate.

(3) Accounting for certain Federal credit programs using fair-value accounting to better capture market risk.

sec. 506. policy statement on commission on budget concepts.

(a) Findings.—The Congress finds the following:

(1) In 1965, the President’s Commission on Budget Concepts made a series of recommendations that were adopted and continue to provide the foundation for the Federal budget process.

(2) Over the ensuing 52 years, the Federal budget process has undergone major transformations, including the following:

(A) Congress asserted its Article I ‘‘power of the purse’’ through the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 in the form of a congressional budget process predicated on the adoption of an annual budget resolution setting forth its priorities independent of the executive branch.

(B) Congress and the President have periodically augmented the President’s budget submission and the budget resolution by establishing statutory budget rules and limits enforced through sequestration.

(C) The share of Federal spending that is not controlled through the annual appropriations process has ballooned from 32 percent of total Federal spending in 1967 to 69 percent in 2016.

(D) Activities previously considered the exclusive domain of the Federal Government have been fully commercialized, contracted out to the private sector, financed through third party arrangements, or devolved to State and local governments.

(E) Key functions of the Federal Government are now funded through user fees rather than general revenue, often shielding them from congressional control and oversight.

(F) The Credit Reform Act of 1990 placed Federal loans and loan guarantees on an accrual basis.

(G) Increasing shares of the economy are directed towards compliance with Federal regulations, which are not subject to the limitations applicable to Federal spending.

(b) Policy on Commission on Budget Concepts.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution on the budget that legislation should be enacted that establishes a Commission on Budget Concepts to review and revise budget concepts and make recommendations to create a more transparent Federal budget process.

Sec. 507. Policy statement on budget enforcement.

It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should—

(1) adopt an annual budget resolution before spending and tax legislation is considered in either House of Congress;

(2) assess measures for timely compliance with budget rules in the House;

(3) pass legislation to strengthen enforcement of the budget resolution;

(4) comply with the discretionary spending limits set forth in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985;

(5) prevent the use of accounting gimmicks to offset higher spending;

(6) modify scoring conventions to encourage the commercialization of Federal Government activities that can best be provided by the private sector; and

(7) discourage the use of savings identified in the budget resolution as offsets for spending or tax legislation.

sec. 508. policy statement on improper payments.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The Government Accountability Office defines improper payments as any reported payment that should not have been made or was made in an incorrect amount.

(2) Improper payments totaled $1.2 trillion between fiscal years 2003 and 2016 with a reported Federal Government-wide error rate of 5.1 percent in fiscal year 2016.

(3) Improper payments increased from $107 billion in 2012 to $144 billion in 2016.

(4) The Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicare, and Medicaid account for 78 percent of total improper payments, with error rates of 24 percent, 11 percent, and 10.5 percent, respectively.

(5) Eight agencies did not report payment estimates for 18 programs that the Comptroller General deems susceptible to significant improper payments.

(b) Policy on Improper Payments.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that an independent commission should be established with the goal of finding tangible solutions to reduce total improper payments by 50 percent within the next 5 years. The commission should also develop a more-stringent system of agency oversight to achieve this goal.

sec. 509. policy statement on expenditures from agency fees and spending.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Many Federal agencies and organizations have permanent authority to collect and spend fees and other offsetting collections.

(2) The Office of Management and Budget estimates the total amount of offsetting fees and collec2tions to be $513 billion in fiscal year 2017.

(3) Agency budget justifications are, in some cases, not fully transparent about the amount of program activity funded through offsetting collections or fees. This lack of transparency prevents effective and accountable Government.

(b) Policy on Supplemental Wildfire Suppression Funding.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should reassert its constitutional prerogative to control Federal spending and exercise rigorous oversight over Federal agencies. Congress should subject all fees paid by the public to Federal agencies to annual appropriations or authorizing legislation and a share of these proceeds should be reserved for taxpayers in the form of deficit reduction.

sec. 510. policy statement on promoting real health care reform.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Patient-centered health care increases access to quality care for all Americans, regardless of age, income, or health status.

(2) States are best equipped to respond to the needs of their unique communities.

(3) The current legal framework encourages frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that increase health care costs.

(b) Policy on Health Care Regulation.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the American health care system should encourage research, development, and innovation in the medical sector, rather than stymie growth through over-regulation;

(2) States should determine the parameters of acceptable private insurance plans based on the needs of their populations and retain control over other health care coverage standards;

(3) reforms should protect patients with pre-existing conditions, reward those who maintain continuous health coverage, and create greater parity between benefits offered through employers and those offered independently;

(4) States should have greater flexibility in designing their Medicaid program and State Children’s Health Insurance Program;

(5) medical malpractice reform should emphasize compliance with best practice guidelines, while continuing to protect patients’ interests; and

(6) States should have the flexibility to implement medical liability policies to best suit their needs.

sec. 511. policy statement on medicare.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) More than 57 million Americans depend on Medicare for their health security.

(2) The Medicare Trustees Report has repeatedly recommended that Congress address Medicare’s long-term financial challenges. Each year without reform, the financial condition of Medicare becomes more precarious and the threat to those in or near retirement more pronounced. The current challenges that Congress will need to address include—

(A) the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2029 and unable to pay the scheduled benefits;

(B) Medicare enrollment is expected to increase more than 50 percent in the next two decades, as 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day;

(C) due to extended life spans, enrollees remain in Medicare three times longer than at the outset of the program five decades ago;

(D) notwithstanding the program’s trust fund arrangement, current workers’ payroll tax contributions pay for current Medicare bene2ficiaries instead of being set aside for their own future use;

(E) the number of workers supporting each beneficiary continues to fall; in 1965, the ratio was 4.5 workers per beneficiary, and by 2030, the ratio will be only 2.4 workers per beneficiary;

(F) the average Medicare beneficiary receives about three dollars in Medicare benefits for every dollar paid into the program;

(G) Medicare is growing faster than the economy, with a projected growth rate of 7.2 percent per year on average through 2026, peaking in 2026 at 9.2 percent; and

(H) by 2027, Medicare spending will reach more than $1.4 trillion, more than double the 2016 spending level of $692 billion.

(3) Failing to address the impending insolvency of Medicare will leave millions of American seniors without adequate health security and younger generations burdened with having to pay for these unsustainable spending levels.

(b) Policy on Medicare Reform.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution to save Medicare for those in or near retirement and to strengthen the program’s solvency for future beneficiaries.

(c) Assumptions.—This concurrent resolution assumes transition to an improved Medicare program that ensures—

(1) Medicare is preserved for current and future beneficiaries;

(2) future Medicare beneficiaries may select from competing guaranteed health coverage options a plan that best suits their needs;

(3) traditional fee-for-service Medicare remains as a plan option;

(4) Medicare provides additional assistance for lower-income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks; and

(5) Medicare spending is put on a sustainable path and becomes solvent over the long term.

sec. 512. policy statement on combating the opioid epidemic.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (‘‘CDC’’), 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.

(2) Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

(3) Since 1999, the number of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled.

(4) Since 1999, the number of deaths from prescription opioids has more than quadrupled.

(5) The CDC asserts that improving opioid prescribing practices will reduce exposure to opioids, prevent abuse, and stop addiction.

(6) The CDC has found that individuals in rural counties are almost twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as those in urban areas.

(7) According to the CDC, nearly 7,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every day for using opioids in a non-approved manner.

(8) The 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act were signed into law in the 114th Congress in an overwhelming display of congressional and executive branch support in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

(9) Bipartisan efforts to eliminate opioid abuse and provide relief from addiction for all Americans should continue.

(b) Policy on Opioid Abuse.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) combating opioid abuse using available budgetary resources remains a high priority;

(2) the House, in a bipartisan manner, should continue to examine the Federal response to the opioid abuse epidemic and support essential activities to reduce and prevent substance abuse;

(3) the House should continue to support initiatives included in the 21st Century Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act;

(4) the House should continue its oversight efforts, particularly ongoing investigations conducted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, to ensure that taxpayer dollars intended to combat opioid abuse are spent appropriately and efficiently; and

(5) the House should collaborate with State, local, and tribal entities to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the opioid addiction crisis.

sec. 513. policy statement on the state children’s health insurance program.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (‘‘SCHIP’’) is a means-tested program that provides health insurance coverage to low-income children and pregnant women who do not qualify for Medicaid based on income.

(2) SCHIP eligibility varies by State, as States decide the income upper limit for beneficiaries; the current upper limit varies from 175 percent of the Federal poverty level to 405 percent of the Federal poverty level.

(3) SCHIP covered on average 6.3 million people monthly in fiscal year 2017.

(4) The average cost of a child enrolled in SCHIP to the Federal Government was approximately $2,300 in fiscal year 2017, compared to approximately $1,910 for a child enrolled in Medicaid.

(5) The Federal spending allotment for SCHIP will expire at the end of fiscal year 2017.

(6) The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission recommends an extension of Federal SCHIP funding, and warns that all States are projected to exhaust their Federal SCHIP funds during fiscal year 2018.

(7) SCHIP should be preserved to assist the Nation’s vulnerable children.

(b) Policy on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the House should work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize SCHIP funding;

(2) the authorizing committees should consider establishing a Federal upper limit for SCHIP eligibility, rather than providing open-ended access to the program for those at higher income levels;

(3) the House should target resources designated for SCHIP toward those most in need of Federal assistance; and

(4) the House should require greater reporting by States of SCHIP data in order to better structure the program to meet beneficiaries’ needs.

sec. 514. policy statement on medical discovery, development, delivery, and innovation.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The Nation’s commitment to the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments and cures has made the United States the biomedical innovation capital of the world for decades.

(2) The history of scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs in the United States is extensive, including the creation of the polio vaccine, the first genetic mapping, and the invention of the implantable cardiac pacemaker.

(3) Reuters ranks the United States Health and Human Services Laboratories as first in the world for innovation on its 2017 list of the Top 25 Global Innovators.

(4) The United States leads the world in the production of medical devices, and the United States medical device market accounts for approximately 45 percent of the global market.

(5) The United States remains a global leader in pharmaceutical research and development investment, has produced more than half of the world’s new molecules in the past decade, and represents the world’s largest pharmaceutical market, which is triple the size of the nearest rival, China.

(b) Policy on Medical Innovation.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the Federal Government should foster investment in health care innovation and maintain the Nation’s world leadership status in medical science by encouraging competition;

(2) the House should continue to support the critical work of medical innovators throughout the country through continued funding for agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to conduct life-saving research and development; and

(3) the Federal Government should unleash the power of private-sector medical innovation by removing regulatory obstacles that impede the adoption of new medical technology and pharmaceuticals.

sec. 515. policy statement on public health preparedness.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The Constitution requires the Federal Government to provide for the common defense. As such, the Nation must prioritize its ability to respond rapidly and effectively to a public health crisis or bioterrorism threat.

(2) There is a persistent threat of bioterrorism against American lives.

(3) Naturally-occurring public health threats can spread through the transmission of communicable diseases during international trade and travel.

(4) As of April 3, 2016, the World Health Organization reported nearly 29,000 cases of the Ebola virus worldwide, including 4 instances in the U.S.

(5) As of July 12, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (‘‘CDC’’) reports that the current Zika epidemic resulted in over 5,000 cases of the Zika virus within the United States, with nearly 37,000 more cases reported in U.S. territories.

(6) Preventing the spread of disease to Americans requires halting threats before they breach the U.S. border.

(7) The United States is a leader in global public health assistance and orchestrates international responses to health crises.

(b) Policy on Public Health Preparedness.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the House should continue to fund activities of the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop and stockpile medical countermeasures to infectious diseases and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents;

(2) the House should, within available budgetary resources, provide continued support for research, prevention, and public health preparedness programs;

(3) the Federal Government should encourage private-sector development of critical vaccines and other medical countermeasures to emerging public health threats; and

(4) the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State should collaborate on global health preparedness initiatives to prevent overlap and promote responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources.

sec. 516. policy statement on social security.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) More than 60 million retirees, individuals with disabilities, and survivors depend on Social Security. Since enactment, Social Security has served as a vital leg of the ‘‘three-legged stool’’ of retirement security, which includes employer provided pensions as well as personal savings.

(2) Lower-income Americans rely on Social Security for a larger proportion of their retirement income. Therefore, reforms should take into consideration the need to protect lower income Americans’ retirement security.

(3) The Social Security Trustees Report has repeatedly recommended that Social Security’s longterm financial challenges be addressed soon. The financial condition of Social Security and the threat to seniors and those receiving Social Security disability benefits becomes more pronounced each year without reform. For example—

(A) in 2028, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted and program revenues will be unable to pay scheduled benefits; and

(B) with the exhaustion of both the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and the Old-Age and Survivors and Disability Trust Fund in 2035, benefits will be cut by as much as 25 percent across the board, devastating those currently in or near retirement and those who rely on Social Security the most.

(4) The recession and continued low economic growth have exacerbated the looming fiscal crisis facing Social Security. The most recent Congressional Budget Office (‘‘CBO’’) projections find that Social Security will run cash deficits of more than $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.

(5) The Disability Insurance program provides an essential income safety net for those with disabilities and their families. According to CBO, between 1970 and 2015 the number of disabled workers and their dependent family members receiving disability benefits has increased by more than 300 percent from 2.7 million to over 10.9 million. This increase is not due strictly to population growth or decreases in health. CBO also attributes program growth to changes in demographics and the composition of the labor force as well as Federal policies.

(6) In the past, Social Security has been reformed on a bipartisan basis, most notably by the ‘‘Greenspan Commission’’, which helped address Social Security shortfalls for more than a generation.

(7) Americans deserve action by the President and Congress to preserve and strengthen Social Security to ensure that Social Security remains a critical part of the safety net.

(b) Policy on Social Security.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should work in a bipartisan manner to make Social Security solvent on a sustainable basis. This concurrent resolution assumes, under a reform trigger, that—

(1) if in any year the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund annual Trustees Report determines that the 75-year actuarial balance of the Social Security Trust Funds is in deficit, and the annual balance of the Social Security Trust Funds in the 75th year is in deficit, the Board of Trustees should, no later than September 30 of the same calendar year, sub2mit to the President recommendations for statutory reforms necessary to achieve a positive 75-year actuarial balance and a positive annual balance in the 75th year, and any recommendations provided to the President must be agreed upon by both Public Trustees of the Board of Trustees;

(2) not later than December 1 of the same calendar year in which the Board of Trustees submit its recommendations, the President should promptly submit implementing legislation to both Houses of Congress including recommendations necessary to achieve a positive 75-year actuarial balance and a positive annual balance in the 75th year, and the majority leader of the Senate and the majority leader of the House should introduce the President’s legislation upon receipt;

(3) within 60 days of the President submitting legislation, the committees of jurisdiction should report a bill, which the House or Senate should consider under expedited procedures; and

(4) legislation submitted by the President should—

(A) protect those in or near retirement;

(B) preserve the safety net for those who count on Social Security the most, including those with disabilities and survivors;

(C) improve fairness for participants;

(D) reduce the burden on and provide certainty for future generations; and

(E) secure the future of the Disability Insurance program while addressing the needs of those with disabilities today and improving the determination process.

(c) Policy on Disability Insurance.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should consider legislation on a bipartisan basis to reform the Disability Insurance program prior to its insolvency in 2028 and should not raid the Social Security retirement system without reforms to the Disability Insurance system. This concurrent resolution assumes reform that—

(1) promotes opportunity for those trying to return to work;

(2) ensures benefits continue to be paid to individuals with disabilities and their family members who rely on them;

(3) prevents a 7 percent across-the-board benefit cut; and

(4) improves the Disability Insurance program.

(d) Policy on Social Security Solvency.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that any legislation 2the House considers to improve the solvency of the Disability Insurance Trust Fund must also improve the longterm solvency of the combined Old Age and Survivors Disability Insurance Trust Fund.

sec. 517. policy statement on medicaid work requirements.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Medicaid is a Federal-State program that provides health care coverage for impoverished Americans.

(2) Medicaid serves four major population categories: the elderly, the blind and disabled, children, and adults.

(3) The Congressional Budget Office projects the average monthly enrollment in Medicaid for fiscal year 2018 to be 78 million people.

(4) Of this 78 million people, 27 million – more than one third of the enrollees – are non-elderly, non-disabled adults.

(5) Medicaid continues to grow at an unsustainable rate, and will cost approximately one trillion dollars per year within the decade, between Federal and State spending.

(6) Congress has a responsibility to preserve limited Medicaid resources for America’s most vul2nerable – those who cannot provide for themselves.

(7) Forbes reported last year on a first-of-itskind study conducted by the Foundation for Government Accountability. It analyzed data from the State of Kansas, which demonstrates that work requirements have led to greater employment, higher incomes, and less poverty.

(8) The State of Maine implemented work requirements in 2014, and saw incomes rise for ablebodied welfare recipients by an average of 114 percent within a year.

(9) Work is a valuable source of human dignity, and work requirements help lift Americans out of poverty by incentivizing self-reliance.

(b) Policy on Medicaid Work Requirements.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) Congress should enact legislation that encourages able-bodied, non-elderly, non-pregnant adults without dependents to work, actively seek work, participate in a job-training program, or do community service, in order to receive Medicaid;

(2) Medicaid work requirements legislation could include 30 hours per week of work, of which 20 of those hours should be spent in the core activities of: public or private sector employment, work experience, on-the-job training, job-search or jobreadiness assistance program participation, community service, or vocational training and education;

(3) States should be given flexibility to determine the parameters of qualifying program participation and work-equivalent experience;

(4) States should perform regular case checks to ensure taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent; and

(5) the Government Accountability Office or the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General should conduct annual audits of State Medicaid programs to ensure proper reporting and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

sec. 518. policy statement on welfare reform and supplemental nutrition assistance program work requirements.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Participation in SNAP has grown from 17 million Americans in 2001 to 44 million in 2016.

(2) The work support role of SNAP has declined, and the program increasingly serves as a replacement to work.

(3) Work requirements were key to the success of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which led to a two-thirds reduction in welfare caseloads, a reduction in child poverty, and an increase in work participation. The successful 1996 welfare reform law provides a model for improving work requirements in other anti-poverty programs.

(b) Policy on Welfare Reform and SNAP Work Requirements.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the welfare system should reward work, provide tools to escape poverty, and expect work-capable adults to work or prepare for work in exchange for welfare benefits; and

(2) SNAP should be reformed to improve work requirements to help more people escape poverty and move up the economic ladder.

sec. 519. policy statement on state flexibility in supplemental nutrition assistance program.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) Spending on SNAP has almost quadrupled since 2001.

(2) Various factors are driving this growth, but one major reason is that while the States have the responsibility of administering the program, they have little incentive to ensure it is well run.

(3) In 1996, a Republican Congress and a Democratic President reformed welfare by limiting the duration of benefits, giving States more control over the program, and helping recipients find work. In the 5 years following passage, child-poverty rates fell, welfare caseloads fell, and workers’ wages increased. This bipartisan success offers a model for improving other anti-poverty programs.

(b) Policy on State Flexibility In SNAP.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that SNAP should be reformed to reduce poverty and increase opportunity and upward mobility for struggling Americans on the road to personal and financial independence. Based on the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s, these proposals would improve work requirements and provide flexible funding for States to help those most in need find gainful employment, escape poverty, and move up the economic ladder.

sec. 520. policy statement on higher education and workforce development opportunity.

(a) Findings on Higher Education.—The House finds the following:

(1) A well-educated, high-skilled workforce is critical to economic, job, and wage growth.

(2) Average published tuition and fees have increased consistently above the rate of inflation across all types of colleges and universities.

(3) With an outstanding student loan portfolio of $1.3 trillion, the Federal Government is the largest education lender to undergraduate and graduate students, parents, and other guarantors.

(4) Students who do not complete their college degree are at a greater risk of defaulting on their loans than those who complete their degree.

(5) Participation in Federal income-driven repayment plans is rising, in terms of the percent of both borrowers and loan dollars, according to the Government Accountability Office. Because these plans offer loan balance forgiveness after a repayment period, this increased use portends higher projected costs to taxpayers.

(b) Policy on Higher Education.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution to promote college affordability, access, and success by—

(1) reserving Federal financial aid for those most in need and streamlining grant and loan aid programs to help students and families more easily assess their options for financing postsecondary education; and

(2) removing regulatory barriers to reduce costs, increase access, and allow for innovative teaching models.

(c) Findings on Workforce Development.—The House finds the following:

(1) 7.5 million Americans are currently unemployed.

(2) Despite billions of dollars in spending, those looking for work are stymied by a broken workforce development system that fails to connect workers with assistance and employers with skilled personnel.

(3) The House Committee on Education and the Workforce successfully consolidated 15 workforce development programs when Congress enacted the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014.

(d) Policy on Workforce Development.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution to build on the success of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by—

(1) further streamlining and consolidating Federal workforce development programs; and

(2) empowering States with the flexibility to tailor funding and programs to the specific needs of their workforce.

sec. 521. policy statement on supplemental wildfire suppression funding.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) In 1995, fire activities made up 16 percent of the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) annual appropriated budget. Since 2015, more than 50 percent has now been dedicated to wildfire.

(2) Wildland fire suppression activities are currently funded entirely within the USFS budget, based on a 10-year rolling average. Using this model, the agency must average firefighting costs from the past 10 years to predict and request costs for the next year. When the average was stable, the agency was able to use this model to budget consistently for the annual costs associated with wildland fire suppression.

(3) Over the last few decades, wildland fire suppression costs have increased as fire seasons have grown longer and the frequency, size, and severity of wildland fires has increased.

(4) The six worst fire seasons since 1960 have all occurred since 2000. Since 2000, many western states have experienced the largest wildfires in their State’s history. In 2016 alone, there were a recorded 267,595 fires and a total of over 5.5 million acres burned. The suppression costs to USFS and other Federal agencies for 2016 totaled over $1.9 billion dollars.

(5) As wildfire costs continue to increase, funding levels for USFS wildfire suppression activities will also continue to constrict funding levels for other necessary USFS forest management activities focused on land management and wildfire prevention.

(b) Policy on Supplemental Wildfire Suppression Funding.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that Congress, in coordination with the Administration, should develop both a long-term funding mechanism that would allow supplemental wildfire suppression funding and reforms on reducing hazardous fuel loads on Federal forests and lands that could decrease wildfires.

sec. 522. policy statement on the department of veterans affairs.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) For years there have been serious concerns regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (‘‘VA’’) bureaucratic mismanagement and continuous failure to provide veterans timely access to health care.

(2) Since 2003, VA disability compensation and health care have been added to the Government Accountability Office’s (‘‘GAO’’) ‘‘high-risk’’ list, due to mismanagement and oversight failures, lack of a ‘‘unified vision, strategy, or set of goals to guide their outcomes,’’ and the inability to ensure allocated resources are used in a cost-effective and efficient way to improve veterans’ health care access.

(3) The VA’s failure to provide timely and accessible health care to America’s veterans is unacceptable. While Congress has done its part for more than a decade by providing sufficient funding for the VA, the agency has mismanaged these resources, resulting in proven adverse effects on veterans and their families.

(b) Policy on the Department of Veterans Affairs.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should require the VA to conduct an audit of programs named on GAO’s ‘‘high-risk’’ list and report its findings to the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on the Budget, and the Committee on Veterans Affairs of the House of Representatives.

sec. 523. policy statement on moving the united states postal service on budget.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The President’s Commission on Budget Concepts recommends that the budget should, as a general rule, be comprehensive of the full range of Federal activity.

(2) The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1989 (Public Law 101–239) moved the United States Postal Service (‘‘USPS’’) off budget and exempted it from sequestration.

(3) The USPS has a direct effect on the fiscal posture of the Federal Government, through—

(A) the receipt of direct appropriations of $35 million in fiscal year 2017;

(B) congressional mandates such as requirements for mail delivery service schedules;

(C) incurring $15 billion in debt from the Treasury, the maximum permitted by law;

(D) continued operating deficits since 2007;

(E) defaulting on its statutory obligation to prefund health care benefits for future retirees; and

(F) carrying $119 billion in total unfunded liabilities with no foreseeable pathway of funding these liabilities under current law.

(b) Policy on Moving the USPS on Budget.—

It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that all receipts and disbursements of the USPS should be included in the congressional budget and the budget of the Federal Government.

sec. 524. policy statement on the judgment fund.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) The Judgment Fund (‘‘Fund’’), established in 1956, was created to pay judgments and settlements of lawsuits against the Federal Government.

(2) As a result of the Fund’s design, it is ripe for executive branch exploitation. The Obama Administration used the Fund to make billions of dollars in payments to Federal agencies and foreign entities. For example—

(A) on January 17, 2016, the State Department announced the Federal Government agreed to pay the Iranian government $1.7 billion to settle a case related to the sale of military equipment prior to the Iranian revolution, of which $1.3 billion was sourced through the Fund, without prior congressional notification and the Obama Administration’s use of the Fund to make this and other payments raises serious concerns by sidestepping Congress; and

(B) in 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its intentions to use the Fund for settlements with health insurers who sued the Federal Government over the loss of funds for risk corridors under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(3) Failing to address the lack of oversight over the Fund annually costs taxpayers billions of dollars, as payments exceeded $4.6 billion in 2016 and more than $26 billion in the preceding 10 year period.

(b) Policy on Judgment Fund.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should consider legislation that reclaims Congress’s power of the purse over the Fund. Such legislation should—

(1) prohibit interest payments paid from the Fund for accounts or assets frozen by the Federal Government and listed on—

(A) the Sanctions Programs list of the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Department of Treasury; or

(B) Sponsors of Terrorism list of the Department of State;

(2) amend sections 2414 and 1304 of titles 28 and 31, United States Code, respectively, to—

(A) provide a clear definition and explanation of a ‘‘foreign court or tribunal’’; and

(B) require congressional notification whenever the Fund makes a settlement or court ordered lump sum or aggregated payment exceeding $500 million; and

(3) require legislative action to approve payments from the Fund in excess of a specified threshold, increase transparency, and require Federal agencies to reimburse the Fund over a fixed time period.

sec. 525. policy statement on responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

(a) Findings.—The House finds that significant savings were achieved by the House by consolidating operations and renegotiating contracts.

(b) Policy on Responsible Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that—

(1) the House should be a model for the responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources, and identify any savings that can be achieved through greater productivity and efficiency gains in the operation and maintenance of House services and resources, including printing, conferences, utilities, telecommunications, furniture, grounds maintenance, postage, and rent;

(2) the House should review policies and procedures for the acquisition of goods and services to eliminate unnecessary spending;

(3) the Committee on House Administration should review the policies pertaining to services provided to Members and committees of the House, and identify ways to reduce any subsidies paid for the operation of the House gym, barber shop, salon, and the House dining room;

(4) no taxpayer funds should be used to purchase first class airfare or to lease corporate jets for Members of Congress; and

(5) retirement benefits for Members of Congress should not include free, taxpayer-funded health care for life.

sec. 526. policy statement on tax reform.

(a) Findings.—The House finds the following:

(1) A world-class tax system should be simple, fair, and promote (rather than impede) economic growth. The United States tax code fails on all 3 counts: it is complex, unfair, and inefficient. The tax code’s complexity distorts decisions to work, save, and invest, which leads to slower economic growth, lower wages, and less job creation.

(2) Standard economic theory holds that high marginal tax rates lessen the incentives to work, save, and invest, which reduces economic output and job creation. Lower economic output, in turn, mutes the intended revenue gain from higher marginal tax rates.

(3) Roughly half of United States active business income and half of private sector employment are derived from business entities (such as partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietorships) that are taxed on a ‘‘pass-through’’ basis, meaning the income is taxed at individual rates rather than corporate rates. Small businesses, in particular, tend to choose this form for Federal tax purposes, and the highest Federal rate on such small business income can reach nearly 45 percent. For these reasons, sound economic policy requires lowering marginal rates on these pass-through entities.

(4) The top United States corporate income tax rate (including Federal, State, and local taxes) is slightly more than 39 percent, the highest rate in the industrialized world. Tax rates this high suppress wages, discourage investment and job creation, distort business activity, and put American businesses at a competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors.

(5) By deterring potential investment, the United States corporate tax restrains economic growth and job creation. The United States tax rate differential fosters a variety of complicated multinational corporate practices intended to avoid the tax, which have the effect of moving the tax base offshore, destroying American jobs, and decreasing corporate revenue.

(6) The ‘‘world-wide’’ structure of United States international taxation essentially taxes earnings of United States firms twice, putting them at a significant competitive disadvantage with competitors that have more competitive international tax systems.

(7) Reforming the tax code would boost the competitiveness of United States companies operating abroad and significantly reduce tax avoidance.

(8) The tax code imposes costs on American workers through lower wages, consumers in higher prices, and investors in diminished returns.

(9) Increasing taxes to raise revenue and meet out-of-control spending would sink the economy and Americans’ ability to save for their children’s education and retirement.

(10) Closing special preference carve outs in our tax code to finance higher spending does not constitute fundamental tax reform.

(11) Tax reform should curb or eliminate tax breaks and use those savings to lower tax rates across the board, not to fund more wasteful Federal Government spending. Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

(12) Many economists believe that fundamental tax reform, including a broader tax base and lower tax rates, would lead to greater labor supply and increased investment, which would have a positive impact on total national output.

(b) Policy on Tax Reform.—It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that the House should consider comprehensive tax reform legislation that promotes economic growth, creates American jobs, increases wages, and benefits American consumers, investors, and workers by—

(1) simplifying the tax code to make it fairer to American families and businesses and reducing the amount of time and resources necessary to comply with tax laws;

(2) substantially lowering tax rates for individuals and consolidating the current seven individual income tax brackets into fewer brackets;

(3) repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax;

(4) reducing the corporate tax rate; and

(5) transitioning the tax code to a more competitive system of international taxation.


Section 405. (HCR71)


H. Con. Res. 71 (115th Congress)

[BCD  § 010.43]