The Congressional Budget Process: 1974-1993

Included in the Committee Print:


before the

Legislation and National

Security Subcommittee

of the

Committee on Government Operations

House of Representatives
One Hundred Third Congress
Second Session
June 29; and august 4, 1994

Printed for the use of the Committee on Government Operations

[The source for this document is the Hearing on Congressional Budget Process Before the Government Operations Committee in June and July of 1993]


The article that follows is a revised overview of the congressional budget process since the passage of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. The revision highlights the development of the budget process, documents the significant changes that have occurred in the budget process since its inception and emphasizes particularly the recent changes made by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. I am grateful to Nicholas A. Masters, my Special Assistant, who prepared the original and revised drafts of this article.

Martin Olav Sabo, Chairman, House Budget Committee

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 is the single most significant piece of legislation affecting the Federal budget process since enactment of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. Like its predecessor of 1921, the 1974 act is part of a process in which the legislative branch seeks to maintain its historic role in determining the Nation’s taxing and spending policies, while allowing coordination, led by the President, within an executive establishment whose size reflects the activities of a huge country.

Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury except in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Though the authors of the Constitution clearly intended that Congress have the decisive power of the purse, it has not always turned out that way. Throughout much of the 20th century the President has gained power for a variety of reasons. Two of the most obvious ones are the growth of the executive bureaucracy, taxing Congress’s ability to supervise; and the President’s increased assertiveness in using his executive power coupled with congressional reliance to challenge that power, particularly in times of war.

Wars everywhere disrupt established modes of financing and operating government, and major budget process reforms, including the creation of the Appropriations Committees after the Civil War and later the 1921 and 1974 Acts, tend to respond to those disruptions. World War I generated massive (for the time) spending increases and deficits. The 1921 Act centralized under control of the President (with rare exceptions) preparation of the Budget Estimates with which agencies request funds from Congress. To balance this grant of power, Congress moved control of the audit of spending to the legislative branch from the Treasury, creating the General Accounting Office. Congress also centralized its own activities, reconcentrating authority over appropriations, which had been dispersed towards the end of the 19th century, in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Budget Process Changes, 1921 to 1973

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 placed the Bureau of the Budget in the Treasury Department although it officially was under the direct supervision of the President. The Reorganization Act of 1939 recognized the Bureau of the Budget’s reporting relationship by moving it to the newly-created Executive Office of the President. The Bureau of the Budget was renamed the Office of Management and Budget as a result of government reorganization [page 2] in 1970 and an Executive order from President Richard M. Nixon which implemented the change.

There had always been spending, such as interest on the public debt, that received “permanent” appropriations. These funds did not have to be voted upon annually by Congress. Beginning in 1932, Congress instituted a new form of “backdoor” spending in the form of loan authority. The Social Security Act of 1935 created major new “entitlements,” programs with permanent appropriations, such as old age pensions. These would grow steadily as the eligible population-grew over the coming years. Congress also expanded contract authority (enabling agencies to enter into contracts in advance of an appropriation) over the following years.

After World War II President Harry Truman appointed former President Herbert Hoover as chairman of a special commission on improving government efficiency. The Hoover Commission, as it was called, came up with a series of measures in its 1949 report that improved the way the budget was organized and presented. These measures were effectively implemented by the National Security Act Amendment of 1949 and by the Budget and Accounting Procedures Act of 1950.

However other reforms – attempts to create a joint House/Senate“legislative budget,” in 1946, and an experiment with intentional  omnibus — all into one appropriations (rolling appropriations large bill), in 1950 – were rejected in practice.

The second Hoover Commission in 1955 made further refinements to the way the budget was organized and presented. Although many of these ideas were not adopted formally, they did eventually find their way into budget management. In fact, the way the budget is organized today by function and category is directly attributable to the Hoover Commission. Important as these changes were, none was as significant as what was accomplished by the 1921 Budget and Accounting Act.

Though the 1921 act and subsequent changes made in the budget process were designed to bring greater control to Federal spending, they also created a system that worked to increase the President’s power to shape spending policies. The Bureau of the Budget’s superior resources for budget preparation, and the establishment of the Council of Economic Advisers to monitor and predict the economy, gave the President a staff with unmatched ability to develop and analyze budget and economic information. And it was the only agent able to package its spending priorities as a coherent whole to deal with such macro-economic issues as inflation, unemployment and investment. As a result, the Congress continued to play a secondary role to the executive branch when it came to the budget.

Impoundment Crisis

By 1970, control over establishing spending priorities had shifted dramatically away from the Congress and toward the President. Members of both parties in the Congress were disturbed by President Richard M. Nixon’s assertion of budgetary powers. Most significantly, he was impounding funds; that is, refusing to spend money that had been constitutionally appropriated.

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President Nixon implemented his impoundments primarily by using the authority of the Office of Management and Budget to apportion funding to agencies. That is, OMB has the authority to regulate the rate (typically, so much per calendar quarter) at which agencies may use funds during a fiscal year. This authority was given to the OMB by the Anti-Deficiency Act of 1954 which was intended to prevent agencies from using all their appropriations early in a fiscal year. With insufficient funds to operate during the remainder of the fiscal year, agencies would threaten to shut down if they did not receive supplemental funding. Rather than apportioning all funds to agencies, President Nixon instructed OMB not to apportion the funding he wished to impound, thereby preventing an agency from using that money.

The impoundment crisis was the immediate catalyst of the 1974 Budget Act, but its long-term antecedents were firmly rooted in the congressional reform movement that reasserted itself in the late 1960’s. Striving to adapt itself to a changing world and government, Congress revisited many of its procedures, seeking to combine both greater democracy and greater coherence. The Senate passed financial disclosure legislation and tightened the rules with regard to registering lobbyists. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1971 was designed to improve the ability of Congress to deal with increasingly complex and technologically oriented legislation, and also required the President to update budget figures in reports for the Congress. The House established a Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly called the Ethics Committee). The Senate established its “Ethics Committee” a few years earlier. The House also began, for the first time, to vote for its committee chairmen at the start of each Congress. Before then, seniority alone determined who served as chairman. The new procedure required a vote of confidence by the Democratic Caucus. Chairmen who failed to win confidence could be challenged by other members.

Seeking to justify his impoundments, the President adapted the reformers’ own rhetoric, in essence asserting that he had to usurp power because Congress had failed to fix itself. In the President’s budget message to Congress, submitted on January 29, 1973, Richard M. Nixon wrote that “[t]he fragmented nature of congressional action [on the budget] results in a . . . serious problem. Rarely does the Congress concern itself with the budget totals or the effect of its individual actions on those totals The Congress must accept responsibility for budget totals and must develop a systematic procedure for maintaining fiscal discipline.”

It was easy to find Members of Congress who agreed with that assessment. Although the Federal budget had changed considerably in the 20th century, congressional procedures for dealing with it had not changed much since enactment of the 1921 Budget and Accounting Act. Before 1917, there was only 1 year in which the Federal Government spent more than $1 billion and that was during the last year of the Civil War. By the 1920’s, Federal spending increased to about $3 billion annually. In the 1930’s it was in the $6$8 billion range. In the last year of World War II it rose to more than $98 billion. By the end of the 1950’s spending was $80-$90 billion a year. In the early 1970’s it had reached $250 billion.

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In the 13-year period from 1960 until the Congressional Budget Act was first introduced in early 1973, Federal spending tripled; the inflation rate tripled; and the dollar outflow abroad quadrupled. The 1921 Budget and Accounting Act remained the last major reform of congressional budget procedures. Yet in the more than half a century that had passed since then, the Federal Government was spending yearly 100 times what it was spending yearly in the 1920’s.

Such standard problems of providing for the national defense, health and education remained. Other problems emerged and demanded attention. International trade and competitiveness, the consequences of regulation and later deregulation, —a more active Federal Reserve, major overhauls in the tax system they all put additional pressures on the way the Federal Government budgeted its resources. Congress’s existing form of control, the appropriations process, became less adequate as old entitlements grew to be a larger part of the budget, new entitlements were created, and other “back-doors,” such as contract and loan authority, were expanded. There was a proposal to index Social Security benefits, so that they would rise automatically. This proposal was adopted in 1975. Increases in other programs were tied to the inflation rate which, as it happened, was about to enter the double digit range.

In this climate the legislative branch needed to change if it intended to participate as an equal party with the executive branch. Congress was at a distinct disadvantage because it had a limited capacity to analyze the President’s budget or to develop a fiscal policy of its own. In particular, it needed reliable estimates of the cost of Social Security and other forms of entitlement spending. It found itself unable to pass, before the beginning of the fiscal year that then began on July 1, the 13 regular appropriations bills that together made up the discretionary part of the President’s budget. When Congress did pass spending bills they were not coordinated with the revenue bills.

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office

The fragmented nature of congressional action on the budget virtually forced Congress in 1972 to establish the Joint Study Committee on Budget Control. In the words of the Joint Committee:

“We must have an effective, permanent mechanism for budget control which will assure a more comprehensive and coordinated review of budget totals and determination of spending priorities and spending goals, together with a determination of the appropriate associated revenue and debt levels.”

There were many individual legislative proposals introduced in the early part of 1973 aimed at regaining legislative control over the power of the purse. But the Joint Study Committee’s proposals proved to be the most important since they directly led to the introduction of S. 1541 in the Senate and H.R. 7130 in the House of Representatives. It was these two bills that were enacted into Public Law 93-344, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

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The opening words of the legislation stated the purpose as follows:

“To establish a new congressional budget process; to establish Committees on the Budget in each House; to establish a Congressional Budget Office; to establish a procedure providing congressional control over the impoundment of funds by the executive branch; and for other purposes.”

It passed the Senate 75 to zero and the House 401 to 6.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was created to give Congress the capacity for analyzing and developing economic and budgetary information independent of the President. The authors of the Budget Act assumed that if Members all had the same macro-economic information then they would be able to deal rationally with policy choices as to the division of budgetary resources, as well as develop a coherent fiscal policy. In other words, if Congress had the capacity to provide its own information, then Congress would be able to “do the right thing” in determining the amount of revenues it should raise and the amount of expenditures it needed to spend. While CBO’s estimates were less subject than OMB’s to suspicion of political manipulation, so they came to be relied upon heavily, the uncertainties of the world and of estimation ensured that CBO’s estimates also were often off the mark, creating embarrassments which could not be erased by reports of “technical corrections.” Unforeseen at the time, CBO’s estimates and technical corrections would vary widely and would be just as controversial and subject to change as anything OMB ever did.

The Budget Committees were created with the responsibility for drafting a concurrent resolution on the budget and directing the congressional budget process. As with any other committee, membership on the Budget Committees is determined by the rules of each House. In the 103d Congress, which began in January 1993, the House Budget Committee has 43 members and the Senate Budget Committee has 21 members. The ratios of majority and minority members are determined at the beginning of each Congress based upon each party’s strength.

The Budget Committees were superimposed on the existing committee structure. The House Budget Committee has no legislative jurisdiction of its own other than reporting a concurrent resolution, but the Senate Budget Committee does have jurisdiction over the 1974 Budget Act, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Gramm-Rudman-Hollings), and their amendments.

Unlike the Senate, the House Budget Committee has a rotating membership, with one exception. The one exception is that members of the House leadership who serve on the Budget Committee, one from the majority and one from the minority, have no term limits. No member of the House Budget Committee can serve more than 6 years out of every 10-year period. Nor can any chairman serve more than 6 consecutive years as chairman. Four of the seven House Budget Committee chairmen, including the present chairman, had contested elections for the chairmanship. The Senate has changed chairmen only because of retirement, resignation or a change of party control. Any Senator can serve on the Senate’s Budget Committee. The House, however, requires that the total membership of its Budget Committee include five members (three [page 6] majority and two minority) each from the Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees and at least one from the majority of the Rules Committee.

It should be noted that the appointments of both parties leadership members have had significant consequences in the development and implementation of the budget process. All four Democratic appointees to the House Budget Committee have held the office of Majority Leader— with the first three being later elected to the office of Speaker. Republican appointees have not generally been members of the formal leadership but they have had considerable backing of the Republican Conference in presenting their views.

Perhaps one of the most important provisions in the Budget Act from the standpoint of gaining early acceptance of the new process by the entire membership was the Budget Committees’ power to review legislation in order to prevent utilization of “backdoor” spending (as defined on page 2) by House and Senate authorizing committees. The Budget Act prohibits most types of “backdoor” spending but it is a complicated subject that requires interpretation. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees work closely with their respective Budget Committees in enforcing the act’s provisions through careful review of authorization legislation that has a budget impact. The authorizing committees also use the Budget Committee’s staff for advice as to how to prevent Budget Act violations that would raise points of order against their bills.

Concurrent Resolution

The concurrent resolution on the budget is intended to provide the Congress with a legislative measure that relates the disparate parts of the budget to the whole and provides a means of enforcing budget targets on itself. It is used to coordinate the budgetary actions of the other committees, something that the Congress had never done before although the executive branch had been coordinating its budget actions among the various departments and agencies since 1921. The concurrent resolution is drafted by the Budget Committee in each House of Congress. A concurrent resolution is approved by Congress in the same manner as a statute, but it does not have the force of law because it is not presented to the President and therefore cannot be vetoed and does not require the President’s signature.

The Budget Act requires that Congress pass its concurrent resolution on the budget by April 15 of each year. This resolution sets targets in five areas: (1) total new budget authority, (new legal obligations that will result in the immediate year or future year outlays of government spending); (2) total budget outlays, (actual spending in that particular year); (3) total budget revenues; (4) total budget surplus (or deficit); and (5) total public debt. The congressional budget resolution for 1975 marked the first time that Members of Congress had an opportunity to vote on budget totals.

The concurrent resolution is structured as Congress’s response to the President’s budget, which itself is divided, following Hoover Commission recommendations, into functional categories. Debate about relative priorities therefore is reflected in figures for 21 categories at all, covering such areas as national defense, veterans affairs, [page 7] income security, education, energy, health, transportation, and interest on the public debt. But the appropriations process is organized in terms of agencies with legal authority to spend money, which crisscross the functional categories, so the relevance of the functional priorities in the resolution as standards for appropriations action has never been established.

In allocating spending whether as totals or priorities, the concurrent resolution also must distinguish categories of spending. One is outlays: the amount spent each year. Outlays create the deficit for that year, but are different from the amount of money that agencies are allowed to obligate each year. An agency may obligate funds to buy a piece of equipment, for example, yet not disburse most of the money until that equipment is completed, often years later. So the concurrent resolution provides targets for both outlays and budget authority (the authority to spend).

There is a further difference in terms of how budget authority is allocated. The resolutions provide targets for each committee in terms of the amount of new budget authority and outlays it can create that year (or the amount by which it must reduce them by changing existing law) After the 1990 amendments, these are the “602a” allocations (formerly “302a”). The basic division is between entitlements, which are funded in authorizing legislation, and annual appropriations, which are within the allocation to the Appropriations Committee. But there is a further complication.

A number of programs, such as food stamps, are entitlements in the sense that Congress and the President have created an enforceable obligation of the government to individuals, but do not have permanent appropriations. Since they must be annually appropriated, the Appropriations Committees need an allocation for these funds. But, since their totals are essentially automatic without legislative changes, the Appropriations Committees cannot really be held responsible for them. During the 1980’s Congress was forced to confront this anomaly, and the 1985 revisions of the Budget Act formalized the understanding still followed today. This distinguishes between “mandatory” and “discretionary” appropriations, and the key aspects of the 602a allocation to the Appropriations Committees are therefore the Budget Authority and outlay figures for those discretionary accounts.

Under the budget process, the previous procedures of authorization and appropriation continue but with two important changes. The first change is that the House Appropriations Committee is required to report all regular appropriations bills by June 10, regardless of other actions on authorizations or the budget resolution. By custom, the Senate waits for appropriations bills to originate in the House, so it has no formal deadline other than the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

The second and far more significant change is that, because of the reconciliation process and various points of order related to the 602a process described above, committees are distinctly constrained in their legislation. At a minimum, they cannot take action that exceeds their 602a targets; at a maximum, they are strongly pressured to report legislation that changes law to meet those targets, if such changes of law are required.

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The Appropriations Committees are especially constrained, since they do not have the option of refusing to act. This constraint was not so meaningful in the early years of the Budget Act, because each individual bill could not exceed a limit on the total. Only the last bill was likely to “bust” the target, and it could not be expected to take all the blame. But reforms in 1985 required the Appropriations Committees not only to publish sub-allocations among their subcommittees (the 602b, or 302b, allocation), but made that allocation binding, so points of order inhibit either the committees or floor amendments raising each bill’s totals above the targets.

Budget resolution controls and instructions apply to revenues as well as spending: the revenue-raising committees of the House and Senate also receive targets to increase (or even decrease) taxes. But aside from the Appropriations Committees, no committee, under the usual legislative process, has to report legislation about its part of the budget each year. Reconciliation was created to force committees to respond to the spending and revenue targets in the concurrent resolution targets that, since the 1980 fiscal year, have covered at least 2 fiscal years beyond the one for which appropriations were being made.

In 1978 Congress passed the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, known as “Humphrey-Hawkins,” that amended the rules of both Houses in providing for 4 hours general debate when a first budget resolution is under consideration. The debate each year is to be focused on “full employment and the economy” based on economic goals and policies set forth by the Joint Economic Committee.

The Budget Act originally provided for two budget resolutions. The first resolution, adopted in the spring, served as a target. The second resolution, adopted in the fall, provided binding numbers. The second resolution would be passed by September 15 and be followed if necessary by a reconciliation resolution (September 25) that would force committees to respect spending ceilings if they had been exceeded or not been met. But the second resolution turned out to be difficult to pass and was eventually dropped.


The original purpose of reconciliation was to force committees to respect spending ceilings adopted by the budget resolution. In other words, the total amount of money the committees want to spend cannot exceed the amount set by the Congress for the whole Federal budget. That is why it is called reconciliation. The individual committees must reconcile their spending desires within the overall goals of the whole Congress as expressed in its budget resolution. The taxing committees must adopt the revenue target contained in the resolution. The reconciliation process has evolved into the primary means of controlling spending in entitlement and mandatory programs as well as establishing a revenue floor.

Reconciliation is a two-stage process that seeks to bring mandatory spending and revenues in line with Congress’s budget resolution. In the first stage, the concurrent resolution sends instructions to committees about how much they should decrease (or increase) budget authority, and outlays in the mandatory spending area as well as revenues. At the second stage, legislation to meet these targets [page 9] is drafted by the authorizing committees with spending and revenue jurisdiction. The Budget Committees in the House and Senate then combine the recommendations of the authorizing committees into an omnibus reconciliation bill, which after passage of the bill in both chambers and conference changes is sent to the President for his approval. Conferences between the House and Senate on reconciliation measures have their own procedures. Suffice it to say that the most recent conference (1993) included 13 standing committees in the Senate and 16 in the House. To resolve the differences 31 mini-conferences were established. The Presidents have signed all ten bills between 1980 (the first time reconciliation was used) and 1993.

The Congressional Budget Office plays a critical role in the reconciliation process. CBO provides the cost estimates of specific provisions to ensure that the savings claimed in the reconciliation bill are legitimate and that the bill is scored accurately.

No discussion of the budget process – specifically the reconciliation process – would be complete without mention of the Byrd Rule. Named after its originator, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, the Rule was originally adopted in 1985, as a Senate Floor amendment to that year’s reconciliation bill, in response to concern over abuse of the reconciliation process. Unlike most legislation considered in the Senate, reconciliation bills are not subject to unlimited debate and are not subject to non-germane amendments. As a result, Senate committees had begun to use reconciliation as a vehicle for legislative language unrelated to the specific intention of reconciliation.

The Byrd Rule – codified in 1990 as section 313 of the Congressional Budget Act – authorizes a point of order against any provision in a reconciliation bill, an amendment thereto, or a conference report thereon, that contains “extraneous” material. Provisions that are extraneous in a reconciliation bill are those that: 1) violate Senate committee jurisdictions, 2) increase the deficit if the Senate committee failed to meet its reconciliation instruction, 3) produce no change in the deficit, 4) produce budgetary changes incidental to its non-budgetary aspects, 5) increase the net deficit in future years, or 6) affect the Social Security old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program. Provisions that are extraneous in a reconciliation conference report are those that violate 3 through 6 above. The specific language of the Byrd Rule makes application of the Rule difficult to know with any certainty and a strict interpretation could yield unreasonable results. However, with consideration of each reconciliation Act the volume of precedent grows and with that comes clarification and greater certainty.

A motion to waive the Byrd Rule is in order and requires an affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn—60—to succeed. Similarly, a ruling of the Chair is overturned on appeal only by an affirmative vote of 60 Senators. If a motion to waive is unsuccessful and the point of order is sustained, the provision is stricken from the bill or conference report. If stricken from a conference report, the report is defeated and the question before the Senate is an amendment consisting of the language of the conference report minus the provisions stricken on the point of order. The latter procedure has never occurred. In some years as [page 10] a result of bipartisan compromises and most recently, in 1993, as a result of extensive efforts by the conferees to conform the conference report to the Byrd Rule, points of order were avoided on the Senate floor.

The Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate are generally not subject to reconciliation instructions. Instead, they are governed by the binding spending limits on all discretionary spending set forth in the budget resolution. The overall limit on discretionary spending is now enforced by a cap, as explained below.

The frequency with which reconciliation has been used indicates that this procedure has become a regular part of the budget process.

Selected Provisions of the Budget Act: Fiscal Year and Impoundments

The Budget Act changed the beginning of the fiscal year from July 1 to October 1. The extra 3 months gave Congress more time to act on the 13 appropriations bills before the new fiscal year began. Initially, this change helped. The 1977 fiscal year was the first time in a decade that all the regular appropriations bills were enacted before the start of the fiscal year. The only other time this occurred was in 1989. There has been improvement in meeting the timetable but strict compliance is still lacking.

The budget process and the impoundment control procedures corrected two main deficiencies that had weakened congressional control of the purse. The budget process part of the act set procedures and timetables for Congress to establish its own comprehensive program for the Nation’s taxing and spending priorities. The impoundment procedures prevented the President from unilaterally abrogating legislative decisions on appropriations. By joining budget and impoundment control into a single act, Congress sought to ensure that the power of appropriations assigned to it by the Constitution was exercised more responsibly and effectively.

The impoundment provisions of the 1974 act authorized Presidents to delay or withhold previously enacted spending, but only with notification or approval of the Congress. This provision was key to getting the President to sign the bill into law.

Specifically, the impoundment provision gave the President a congressionally-approved procedure to defer or rescind spending. Spending deferrals mean the money is withheld from being spent for a specific period of time. That period may not extend beyond the end of the fiscal year in which the deferral is proposed. Spending that is rescinded, however, is money that is permanently cancelled. The President can defer or propose to rescind spending by sending a message to Congress to that effect. In case of deferrals, action by either House of Congress to disapprove the deferral means the deferral must cease at once. In the case of rescissions, both houses of Congress must approve the rescission within 45 days. If both houses do not approve, the rescission is denied and the funds must be released for use. The logic behind this procedure is that since a rescission represents the undoing of what Congress previously enacted, no rescission should take place unless approved by an affirmative vote in both houses.

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Deferrals do not require congressional approval, but are permitted only to provide for contingencies, to achieve savings made possible by changes in requirements or operational efficiencies, or as otherwise specifically provided by law. The original 1974 act also permitted deferrals for policy reasons (e.g., because the President disapproved of a particular program or wished to restrain overall expenditures) and made all deferrals subject to disapproval by vote of either House of Congress. In 1987, however, a Federal appellate court ruled that the President’s authority to make policy deferrals was inseverable from the one-House legislative veto, which had been invalidated in INS v. Chadha (1983). Thus, the President’s deferral authority fell with the legislative veto. The Budget Act was amended later that year to prohibit deferrals except for the nonpolicy reasons mentioned earlier. The use of both recission and deferral remains as controversial today as when they were first enacted.

The Baseline Budget

The baseline budget has been developed principally to provide a means of accurately measuring reductions or increases in spending and revenues received. The Federal budget is affected by a variety of actions independent of what the President or Congress may do. There are unpredictable forces that affect Federal spending and tax receipts. Take the example of entitlement programs. Entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and farm price supplements and interest on the public debt account for 62 percent of all Federal spending. Existing Federal laws mandate that the government must provide specified levels of benefits to all eligible applicants of entitlement programs.

The baseline shows how much spending is needed in future years to maintain current government programs and the revenues anticipated if the tax system were not changed. Deficit reductions are measured according to the policy changes they would make to the baseline budget. Increases in spending to provide an investment strategy (for example, additional highways) would be measured in terms of additional funding above the baseline.

Stated differently, the budget baseline is a means of determining how the budget in some future year if certain changes are would compare with the same budget in the future year if no changes were made. The principal agencies that formulate baseline budgets are the CBO and OMB. The two baselines are similar, but OMB’s baseline (called Current Services) is based on different objectives, technical adjustments and economic assumptions than CBO’s. The formulation of economic assumptions is a critical exercise in developing a baseline budget, a Presidential budget or congressional budget resolution. Predictions in growth in GDP, the level of unemployment, the rate of inflation and interest rates impact on both the revenue and spending levels.

A tax reduction or increase is measured against the anticipated revenues in the baseline. This would be a policy change.

Entitlement programs can be cut, of course, by restricting benefit levels. When such action takes place, they represent what is called a reduction from budget baseline or a budget savings.

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Federal revenue receipts can, however, change even if tax policy does not change. In a recession, revenues would be less. In a growing economy, revenues would be greater than anticipated. In both cases tax policy need not have changed.

The same is true for Federal spending programs. If more people retire in a given year than anticipated, Social Security spending would increase. In the same manner, fewer retirements than anticipated would mean reduced Social Security spending in that year. Yet no one could properly argue that Federal spending was “cut” because fewer people than anticipated retired in a particular year.

Implementation of the Budget Act

Almost immediately after passage of the act in 1974, liberals of both parties in the House and Senate those who favor government spending as an economic tool as well as a means for social justice thought they could use the budget process to direct spending for various programs they supported. Conservatives those who advocated restraint for spending in domestic programs thought the new process could be used to control spending for these very same programs. The budget process has been used to increase as well as control spending, depending on the economic circumstances of the time. It has been used to call for tax increases and tax cuts. It has been used as a deficit reduction process as well as a means of providing for a public investment spending strategy. Sometimes it has been used to do several different things at once. The budget resolution in 1981, for example, called for reductions in both taxes and domestic spending, an increase in military spending, and required that the reconciliation targets be met for each of 3 fiscal years to insure multiyear savings.

The first test of the act was during the 1975 recession. The country faced double-digit unemployment. House Speaker Carl Albert asked all 13 House Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen to draft job stimulus proposals. The next step was to incorporate in the budget resolution reported by the House Budget Committee spending allocations for the job stimulus proposals. The success of the budget process, led by the House Budget Committee, in responding to this macro-economic crisis firmly established the new budget process in Congress as something significantly more than just rhetoric.

Much of the credit for this success must be given to House Budget Chairman Brock Adams (D-WA) and Senate Budget Chairman Edmund Muskie (D-ME) for shepherding the first budget resolution through a skeptical and reluctant Congress. They were instrumental in establishing clearly the original intent of the Budget Act, which was to give Congress the capacity to develop fiscal policy. If anything, the Budget Committees carried their role even further than the original intent by assuming detailed line-item decisions about increasing or decreasing spending in specific programs.

During the first 4 years of the existence of the budget process the role of the House and Senate Budget Committee was to fashion a concurrent resolution that upon adoption would serve as a guideline to the Congress as whole on the appropriate fiscal policy. Although existing enforcement procedures were seldom used, the politics of gaining acceptance of a majority vote in both houses was difficult. [page 13] In the Senate a consensus emerged between a large number of Republican and Democrats on budget issues, but there were also policy differences among the Senators. The House support of budget resolutions in the period divided mostly along party lines.

It should be noted that the original intent of the Budget Act was to enforce budgetary decisions in the following manner: 1) a point of order would lie against any spending bill that breached the spending ceilings as set forth in the Budget Resolution and applied to either budget authority or outlays or both (Sec. 311a), and 2) a point of order would lie against any revenue bill that breached the revenue floor set forth in the Budget resolution (Sec. 311a).

These enforcement measures were soon as unnecessary, ineffective, and unfair – because, as noted above, controls on the total of appropriations bills, but not individual bills, did not work. The Sec. 311 process would be stricken from the Act when the Sec. 302b process was strengthened. In the meantime, self-discipline was the only meaningful enforcement tool.

In 1980, reconciliation was adapted from a provision to be applied to the second concurrent resolution to become a part of the first resolution. That step transformed the budget process, changing reconciliation from a measure that could not be produced in the time allowed (ten days), so was not used, to arguably the most important vehicle within Congress. In essence moving reconciliation to the first resolution also eliminated the point of the second resolution: if the reconciliation passed, the second resolution would be unnecessary. The latter swiftly fell into disuse, and was abolished in 1985.

From Macro Policy to Specific Controls

But reconciliation, and the capacity to contest the President about macroeconomic totals, did not between them serve to reduce the deficit to politically acceptable levels. Having the capacity for analyzing macro-economic information proved to be not enough. By the mid-1980’s Congress decided that it also needed more stringent control mechanisms to force itself to take certain actions. These mechanisms would automatically trigger across-the-board spending cuts if Congress failed to adhere to deficit targets. The sequestration order, as it is called, to implement the spending cuts is issued by the President based upon a formula set by statute.

The seeds of sequestration were planted in 1980 with a renewed emphasis placed upon controlling budget deficits. This change in focus altered the congressional budget process from one of solely developing macro-policy analysis to one of also imposing control. The preoccupation with the deficit from 1980 onward has become the tyranny of budget politics.

The congressional budget process was not born in a time when the deficit was at the forefront of national attention. Rather, the economy of the 1970’s was a time of high inflation coupled with high unemployment. This stagflation, as it was called, lea to a different emphasis in the House and Senate as well as different approaches by liberals and conservatives in both parties in how they dealt with the Federal budget.

During the 1970’s, the Senate was concerned primarily with broad, sweeping economic issues. The House’s emphasis was on [page 14] individual programs. The Senate budgeted from the top down; the House from the bottom up. The primary issue in the House was how much to add or subtract in any given year from the CBO baseline, which is the previous year’s spending adjusted for inflation and growth in entitlement program caseloads.

The Senate’s approach was what the House called formula budgeting, such as across the board cuts in spending or freezing spending at last year’s level. House Members generally were more concerned with individual programs and believed they could best protect them by dealing with them as line items. As a result, the House found itself voting on many amendments in relatively small amounts to ensure funding for particular programs. Across the board amendments to the budget resolution were also attempted in the House in the early years, but were invariably defeated. The Senate also had an amending process for budget resolutions, but all Senate Budget Committee chairmen have opposed specific line-item amendments, arguing that such decisions were the prerogative of either the Senate authorizing committees or the Senate Appropriations Committee.

As the deficit rose, and repeated deficit-reduction measures failed, both chambers came to emphasize formula budgeting. Specifying cuts within budget resolutions looked less attractive in the House, especially as the Appropriations Committees were not bound by those specific assumptions. There was near unanimous agreement, at least publicly, on the need to find the “right” balance of spending cuts and revenue increases to move toward a balanced budget. But specifying how was less attractive.

After all, leaders in both parties argue against the deficit. No one defends it. Everyone wants to reduce it. How to go about doing this, however, does have partisan political implications.

Riverboat Gamble

Congress hoped its budget resolutions would enable it to get a better grip on the budget. The 1980 Presidential election ana the election of Ronald Reagan soon changed the emphasis to getting a grip on the deficit. The massive tax reductions under President Reagan, coupled with increased defense expenditures, poured considerable public and private money into the economy, which was expected. Unexpected was that the added discretionary income created by the tax cuts in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA) went into unproductive endeavors rather than improving the infrastructure or productivity of the country. The “Riverboat Gamble,” as the tax cut program was called by Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) at the time, failed.

The deficit reached previously unimagined heights in the 1980’s. Under President Reagan the national debt went from under $1 trillion when he took office to over $3 trillion by the time he completed his second term 8 years later. Another $1 trillion of debt was added by President George Bush in less than a 4-year period. The widening gap between the Federal Government’s income and its expenditures led President Reagan to propose and sign into law what became the largest tax increase in American history (The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA)). A few years later President Bush proposed and signed the Nation’s second largest (at [page 15] that time) tax increase less than 2 years after pledging he would oppose any tax increase at all. Bush later said that he had made a mistake in proposing a tax increase.

The deficit problem did more than anything to institutionalize the role of the Budget Committees in Congress. They were the only committees able to deal comprehensively with this issue. Other macro-economic issues – unemployment, investment strategies, inflation – all had to fall behind the deficit in emphasis.

It was in this period that Congress began imposing procedural control mechanisms which were designed as a means of achieving a balanced budget or at least lowering the deficit. Control mechanisms soon replaced the primary thrust of the budget process, replacing the self-discipline that had been hoped for as a result of increased capacity on the part of Congress.

Budget Control Mechanisms
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings I and II

Republican Senator Phil Gramm, who as a Democratic House member had sponsored the “Gramm-Latta” budget resolution that promised to avoid such troubles, joined with Warren Rudman (RNH) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC) to write the first version of what would become a series of attempts to create budget rules that forced Congress and the President to agree to large deficit reductions. Senator Phil Gramm, who had been elected to the Senate as a Republican, joined with Warren Rudman (R-NH) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC) to write the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (commonly known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law or GRH, after its three principal authors). This act set specific deficit reduction targets and mandated relative across-the-board sequestration of Federal spending if the targets were not met. Many Members had hoped that the control procedures, at the very least, would give them political cover in—reducing spending or raising taxes by claiming that sequestration if they had failed to act would be a worse alternative. In the few instances where sequestration was invoked however, it caused grave concern among the Members of both Houses.

Part of the first version (GRH I) was declared unconstitutional because it provided that the President’s sequestration order be controlled by estimates determined by the Comptroller General, an agency of the Congress. The Supreme Court ruled that this was an unconstitutional exercise of executive authority by a legislative agent and therefore in violation of the separation of powers doctrine. As a fallback mechanism, the contents of the sequestration order were placed in a bill and enacted into law. The second version (GRH II), enacted in 1987, gave OMB the power to determine the estimates for the President’s sequestration order.

Both versions of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings signaled clearly that the budget process had changed from a capacity mechanism to include one of control. Capacity provided a procedure for Congress to respond to a variety of macro-economic issues, including the deficit. The focus on control has severely restricted congressional action by forcing it to deal primarily with one issue, the deficit.

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The most sweeping legislation prior to 1993 ever imposed upon the Congress in terms of attempting to control the budgetary outcome came in late 1990. Gramm-Rudman-Hollings had failed to produce the desired results. The sequestration required to comply with GRH II was politically unacceptable. President Bush and the Congress agreed on a budget accord that would reduce the deficit by half a trillion dollars over 5 years, $135 billion of which came in the form of new taxes. This agreement is referred to as the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 (BEA).

This act revised the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit targets by making them adjustable rather than fixed; extended the sequestration process through fiscal year 1995; and created a “pay-as-you-go” process requiring any increase in entitlement or mandatory spending or decrease in revenues to be offset so there is no net increase in the deficit. It also placed separate spending caps on the three major categories of discretionary spending: defense; domestic; and international. “Firewalls” prevented Congress from shifting funds from one category to another. After 3 years, these caps were combined into a single discretionary cap.

The BEA represented a rejection of the theory that Congress could somehow be threatened or forced to agree within itself and with the President to achieve some specific target. The BEA was based on taking concrete steps and forcing the President and Congress not to change them.

The Congress used a unique procedure to craft the budget agreement in 1990. The agreement was a product of negotiations at the highest levels of the Federal Government. The participants included the President, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of OMB, the leadership of both parties in both Houses of Congress, and both the House and Senate Budget Committee chairmen and ranking minority members, along with the Senate Finance Committee Chairman and ranking member and the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and ranking member. The BEA is often referred to as the “summit agreement.”

Despite these control provisions the deficit in the ensuing years continued to increase. It was not however, a result of non-compliance with the caps or the failure of the pay-as-you-go requirement, but rather in a large part resulted from the incredible growth in Medicare and Medicaid costs. Also, the price of paying off deposit insurance for failed savings and loans and banks, along with a sluggish economy caused the deficits to burgeon. Control mechanisms, then, helped only to limit the growth of deficit spending.

Balancing the Budget and the Line Item Veto

The BEA was regarded as only a first step. Many Members of Congress still wanted a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. In the House, for example, strong support existed for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Leon E. Panetta (D-CA), Chairman of the House Budget Committee at the time, successfully opposed this proposal by marshalling 153 votes (all but two of which were cast by Democrats) – a number barely more than the one-third required to block passage of a constitutional amendment when the measure came up in 1991.

[page 17]

As a substitute for the constitutional amendment Panetta introduced the Balanced Budget Enforcement Act of 1992, a statutory approach designed to provide for a balanced budget within a 6-year period. The bill included stringent control procedures that require the President to submit a balanced budget; required both the President and the congressional budget committees to use the same economic assumptions in the formulation of their budget; and included a sequestration order if the Congress fails to meet its revenue and spending targets. This bill also incorporated spending caps and “pay-as-you-go” provisions. The Panetta bill was not adopted, but a similar version has been introduced in the 103d Congress.

Recent Presidents, including President Clinton, have favored a line item veto to allow the President to veto selected items in a bill without being required to disapprove the entire bill. The President has no constitutional authority to disapprove selected items in a particular bill. Since a constitutional amendment is not likely, a new procedure has been suggested in its place entitled “enhanced rescission.” Under this procedure the President may rescind the budget authority for an item or items and a statute of disapproval would be required to overturn the recission. (Existing procedures require Congress to approve rescissions before they take affect.) The procedure is under review at this time and has not been enacted but it is safe to say that major budget savings would not result from such a measure.

Another approach is “expedited rescission.” Under this procedure the President would have to obtain congressional approval, but Congress would be forced to vote on Presidential proposals. The House of Representatives passed this version in 1993.

The new forms of proposed recissions are available as policy instruments, but neither of the new proposals has the potential of major deficit reduction.

Though process is important, the use of control mechanisms demonstrates that process is still no substitute for making policy decisions. Reducing the deficit, let alone balancing the budget, is first and foremost a matter of policy choices, although those choices may be limited by economic conditions.

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993

The election of Bill Clinton as President and his emphasis on deficit reduction has put the national spotlight once again on the Congressional budget process. For the first time in 12 years it would no longer be possible to explain budget gridlock as the result of partisan politics between Congress and the President. Newly-elected House Budget Committee Chairman Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN) along with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Jim Sasser (D-TN) seized the opportunity to usher in an era of cooperation and mutual support between the House and Senate and especially between the President and the Congress. No one believed, however, that the task would be easy. In fact the razor-thin margins by which the 1993 Budget Resolution and the 1993 Reconciliation Act passed the Congress suggest how difficult it is, even with an administration of the same party that controls Congress, to construct a budget plan that can gain widespread support.

[page 18]

The Democrats in the House and Senate, acting with no Republican support, enacted a $496 billion deficit reduction package. The reconciliation conference agreement passed by only two votes in the House of Representatives (218-216) and a 50 to 50 tie in the Senate had to be broken by Vice President Albert Gore’s “aye” vote. Of significance here, however, is that control mechanisms were essential to the agreement.

The control mechanisms already in place before the 1992 Presidential election continue in place. In 1993 the appropriation caps were extended through 1998 on all discretionary spending. Also continued was the provision allowing the Congress to avoid the caps if the President declares an emergency such as he did for the midwestern flood victims in the summer of 1993. And every increase in entitlement spending or any tax reduction must be paid for by increasing revenue or by reducing entitlement spending or by some combination of the two. This is a carryover of the “pay-as-you-go” provision of the 1990 Reconciliation Act.

As part of the rule for consideration of the conference agreement of the 1993 Reconciliation Act in the House, and in combination with an executive order from the President, the House and the administration initiated a new procedure called “entitlement review.” The Senate did not consider or include this procedure in the conference agreement because doing so would have violated both the Byrd Rule and a rule barring inclusion of provisions under the jurisdiction of the Senate Budget Committee in a measure not reported by that committee. (Violation of the latter rule would have made the entire conference report subject to a point of order.) Both ruleswouldhaverequireda60-votemajoritytowaive a vote margin impossible to achieve at the time.

Under the new procedure, when the overall entitlement target is breached the President is required to propose in his January budget measures that will cover the overage or explain why it is not necessary or advisable to offset the overage. The House Budget Committee is required to act on this proposal in its first budget resolution. The committee can address the overage in any manner it decides, provided that it proposes as least as much deficit reduction as the President. Further, if the Budget Committee proposes raising the target instead of offsetting all or part of the overage, the House must vote in favor of the target increase before the budget resolution can be taken up. The objective is that this procedure, along with the extension of “caps” and “pay-as-you-go” provisions, will continue the basic budgetary policy objectives and fiscal outcomes set forth in the 1993 Budget Resolution and the 1993 Reconciliation Act.

The many recent revisions to the congressional budget process that have occurred, and the almost total preoccupation with the deficit, suggest that additional changes are likely to occur. Some version of biennial budgeting is one already being reviewed. Whatever these future changes may be, one thing is certain: Congress no longer is an idle bystander to the President or a rubber stamp in formulating fiscal policy. Congress definitely has succeeded through the budget process in giving itself at least a meaningful voice in formulating and controlling budget decisions.

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Budget Glossary

Appropriations: The thirteen bills reported by the Committee on Appropriations, which determine the level of funding (budget authority) for discretionary spending programs.

Authorization: A substantive law that sets up or continues a Federal program or agency. Authorizing legislation is normally a prerequisite for appropriations. For some programs, the authorizing legislation itself provides the authority to incur obligations and make payments, see “direct spending.”

Backdoor spending: Spending that avoids the normal appropriations process such as granting contractual obligation authority to a Federal agency prior to any appropriation.

Baseline: A benchmark for measuring the budgetary effects of proposed changes in Federal revenues or spending with the assumption that current budgetary policies are continued without change. As specified in the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, the baseline for revenues and entitlement spending generally assumes that laws now on the statute books will continue. For discretionary spending, the projections for a fiscal year are generally based on the appropriations for the prior fiscal year, adjusted for inflation.

Budget authority: Authority provided by law to incur financial obligations that will result in spending of Federal Government funds. Budget authority (BA) is a synonym for “funding.” BA is provided for both discretionary and direct spending programs. Offsetting collections, including offsetting receipts, constitute negative budget authority.

Budget deficit: Amount by which budget outlays exceed budget revenues during a given period.

Budget resolution: A concurrent resolution, passed by both Houses of Congress but not requiring the President’s signature, that sets forth a congressional budget plan for the next 5 years. The plan must be carried out through subsequent legislation, including appropriations and changes in tax and entitlement laws. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 established a number of mechanisms that are designed to hold spending and revenues to the targets established in the budget resolution.

Direct spending: Spending that is not controlled by discretionary appropriations. The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 defines this term as (a) budget authority provided by law other than appropriation acts; (b) entitlement authority (including mandatory appropriations); and (c) the food stamp program.

Discretionary spending: Spending appropriated and controlled by the 13 annual appropriation bills. Discretionary spending is divided among three categories: defense, international, and domestic.

Defense discretionary spending consists primarily of the military activities of the Department of Defense, which are funded in the defense and military construction appropriation bills. It also includes the defense-related functions of other agencies, [page 20] such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs.

International discretionary spending encompasses spending for foreign economic and military aid, the activities of the Department of State and the U.S. Information Agency, and international financial programs, such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Domestic discretionary spending includes most government activities in science and space, transportation, medical research, environment protection, and law enforcement, among other spending programs. Funding for these programs is provided in 10 of the annual appropriations bills.

Discretionary spending caps: Ceilings on budget authority and outlays for discretionary programs as defined by the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. For fiscal years 1991 through 1993,  the caps are divided among the three categories of discretionary spending—defense, international, and domestic. For fiscal years 1994 and 1995, there is one cap for all discretionary spending. Discretionary spending caps are enforced through congressional rules and through sequestration procedures.

Entitlements: Programs that make payments to any person, business, or unit of government that seeks the payments and meets the criteria set in law. The Congress controls these programs indirectly by defining eligibility and setting the benefit or payment rules, rather than directly through the annual appropriation process. The best-known entitlements are the major benefit programs, such as Social Security and Medicare; other entitlements include farm price supports and interest on the Federal debt.

Fiscal policy: The Government’s choice of tax and spending programs, which influences the level, composition, and distribution of national output and income. An “easy” fiscal policy stimulates the growth of output and income, whereas a “tight” fiscal policy restrains their growth. Movements in the standardized-employment budget deficit constitute one overall indicator of the tightness or ease of Federal fiscal policy – an increase relative to potential GDP suggests fiscal ease, whereas a decrease suggests fiscal restriction.

Fiscal year: A yearly accounting period. The Federal Government’s fiscal year begins October 1 and ends September 30. Fiscal years are designated by the calendar years in which they – end for example, fiscal year 1991 began October 1, 1990, ended September 30, 1991.

Gross domestic product (GDP): The total market value of all goods and services produced domestically during a given period. The components of GDP are consumption, gross domestic investment, government purchases of goods and services, and net exports.

Off-budget: Spending or revenues excluded from the budget totals by law. The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 requires that the revenues and outlays of the two Social Security trust funds be [page 21] shown as off-budget. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 took the Postal Service fund off-budget.

Outlays: The liquidation of a Federal obligation, generally by issuing a check, cash or a promissory note. Outlays may be for payment of obligations incurred in previous fiscal years or in the same year. Outlays, therefore, flow in part from unexpended balances of prior-year budget authority and, in part, from budget authority provided for the current year.

Reconciliation: A process the Congress uses to make its tax and direct spending legislation conform with the targets established in the budget resolution. The budget resolution may contain reconciliation instructions directing certain congressional committees to achieve savings in tax or spending programs under their jurisdiction. Legislation to implement the reconciliation instructions is usually combined in one comprehensive bill. As a general rule, decisions on defense and nondefense discretionary programs are determined separately through the appropriations process, which is governed by allocations in the budget resolution.

Sequestration: The cancellation of budget authority, if needed, to enforce the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990. Sequestration is triggered if the Office of Management and Budget determines that discretionary appropriations breach the discretionary spending caps, that direct spending and receipt legislation increase the deficit, or that the deficit exceeds, by more than a specified margin, the maximum deficit amount set by law. Failure to meet the maximum deficit amount would trigger spending reductions from non-exempt programs. Changes in direct spending and receipt legislation that increase the deficit would result in reductions in funding from entitlements not otherwise exempted by law. Discretionary spending in excess of the caps would cause the cancellation of budget authority within the appropriate discretionary spending category.

Trust fund: A fund, designated as a trust fund by statute, that is credited with income from earmarked collections and charged with outlays. Collections may come from the public (for example, taxes or user charges) or from intrabudgetary transfers. More than 150 Federal Government trust funds exist, of which the largest and best known finance major benefit programs (including Social Security and Medicare) and certain infra-structure spending (the Highway and the Airport and Airways trust funds). The term “Federal funds” refers to all programs that are not trust funds.

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Calleo, David, Bankrupting of America, W. Morrow, 1992.

Committee on Government Operations (United States Senate). Improving Congressional Control Over the Budget: A Compendium of Materials. U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington, DC, 1973.

Committee on Government Operations (United States Senate). Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974: Legislative History. U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington, DC, 1974.

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Davis, Edward, “Pay-as-you-go” Enforcement Procedures in 1991. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC, 1992 (revised regularly).

Eisner, Robert, How Real is the Federal Deficit?, Free Press, Collier Macmillan, 1986.

Fisher, Louis, Presidential Spending Discretion and Congressional Controls, Law and Contemporary Problems, vol. 37, no. 1 (Winter 1972).

——The Budget Act of 1974: a Further Loss of Spending Control, Congressional Budgeting: Politics, Press and Power, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

——Ten Years of the Budget Act: Still Searching for Controls, Public Finance and Borrowing, vol. 5, Autumn 1985.

Gilmore, John B., Reconcilable Differences: Congress, the Budget Process and the Deficit, University of California Press, 1990.

Hager, George, Budget Drama, Act II: Scenarios for Chaos, Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, vol. 50, no. 4, Jan. 25, 1992, pp. 156-9.

Mikva, Abner J., Congress: the Purse, the Purpose and the Power, Georgia Law Review, vol. 21, special issue 1986.

Penner, Rudolph G., (ed.), The Great Fiscal Experiment, Urban Institute Press, 1991.

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 This summary was included in a hearing held before the Legislation and National  Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations of the House of Representatives on June 29, 1994. The summary was prepared in 1993 by the staff, specifically Nicholas Masters, of the House Budget Committee.

From the Hearing Committee Print:

House of Representatives,
Legislation and National Security Subcommittee
of the Committee on Government Operations,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:05 a.m., in room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Conyers, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives John Conyers, Jr., Carolyn B. Maloney, Al McCandless, and William F. Clinger, Jr.

Also present: Representatives Henry A. Waxman, John M. Spratt, Jr., and William H. Zeliff, Jr.

Legislation and National Security Subcommittee staff present: James C. Turner, staff director.

Full committee staff present: Julian Epstein, staff director; Frank Clemente, senior policy advisor; Kevin H. Cronin, associate counsel; Mechita O. Crawford, staff assistant; and Monty Tripp, minority professional staff.