Spending Reduction Accounts
The term Spending Reduction Account does not refer to an account in the conventional budgetary sense. It rather refers to a rule of the House of Representatives requiring that Appropriation bills must include a separate “account” into which a level of budget authority may be transcribed to indicate a reduction in spending of the overall bill. It is for display purposes only, and has no effect on the 302(a) allocation or the 302(b) suballocations.
Before the 115th Congress, SRAs were enforced through a prohibition on increasing net amounts of budget authority in the underlying bill, which when reflecting the amount displayed in the SRA would be any increase. Section 2(c) of H. Res. 5 (115th Congress) formalized this prohibition by adding that point of order to clause 2(c) of rule XXI of the Standing Rules of the House. The rest of the SRA provision remains in the “Separate Orders” part of the organizing resolution.
Separate Orders of the House are included in the Organizing Resolution adopted by the House at the beginning of every new Congress in the form of a simple House resolution, most often numbered as “H. Res. 5” (the number “H. Res. 6” has been used twice since 1995).
The House Practice describes Spending Reduction Accounts as follows:
Spending Reduction Accounts
Beginning in the 112th Congress, the House has provided a procedure for reducing amounts in a general appropriation bill and displaying that reduction in a spending reduction account at the end of the bill. Under this procedure, en bloc amendments are permitted if such amendments only propose to reduce amounts from an object or objects in the bill, with a corresponding increase in the figure displayed in the spending reduction account. As with en bloc amendments under clause 2(f), such amendments are permitted to reach ahead to portions of the bill not yet read for amendment, and are not subject to a demand for division of the question. Manual Sec. 1063b. An amendment proposing to increase the figure displayed in the spending reduction account by greater than the amount of the reduction is not in order. 112-2, June 1, 2012, p__.
House Practice, A Guide to the Rules, Precedents, and Procedures of the House of Representatives (Washington, DC: GPO, 2017), p. 137.
CRS Description of 115th Congress Amendment to SRA
The CRS report describing the changes related to budget law described the changes for SRA beginning with the 115th Congress:
Requiring Spending Reduction Account
This standing order has been in effect each Congress since the 112th Congress. The order, which previously included the provision described above, seeks to ensure that during House consideration of appropriations bills, any “savings” that occurs as a result of a floor amendment reducing total spending is not available as an “offset” for another amendment. To accomplish this goal, the order requires that any general appropriations bill include a spending reduction account. This “account” is a provision in the last section of the bill that functions as a temporary deposit box into which budget authority is transferred so that it is not available for further appropriation during consideration of that bill. The standing order requires that such an account be included in a general appropriations bill by (1) giving authority to the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee to add the spending reduction account to the bill after the bill has been ordered reported [fn#2] and (2) prohibiting consideration of a general appropriations bill in the Committee of the Whole unless it includes a spending reduction account. [fn#3] During floor consideration of the general appropriations bill, it is in order to consider en bloc amendments proposing to transfer appropriations from one or more sections of the bill into the spending reduction account. When considered en bloc under this rule, it is in order to amend portions of the bill not yet read (i.e., open for) for amendment, and such amendments are not subject to a demand for a division of the question. [fn#4]
[See pp. 2-3 of the CRS Report below under References.
CRS Footnote #2: The spending reduction account must “bear that caption,” and at the time of being ordered, it must include a statement of the amount by which budget authority in the bill is below the corresponding 302(b) allocation. The budget resolution includes a 302(a) allocation to the House Appropriations Committee that holds the committees accountable for staying within the spending limits established by the budget resolution. Once an Appropriations Committee has received its 302(a) allocation, it then subdivides the committee allocation among its subcommittees as soon as practicable after the budget resolution has been adopted. These suballocations are known as 302(b) subdivisions and are enforced on the House floor through points of order.
CRS Footnote #3: The standing order states that a point of order under Rule XXI, clause 2(b) (the rule prohibiting legislation on a general appropriations bill), shall not apply.
CRS Footnote #4: No other amendments to spending reduction accounts are in order.
From the House Rules Committee
The following is from the House Rules Committee in Amending Appropriations Bills – A Basic Guide presented by the Committee on Rules document.
Spending reduction amendments
New for the 112th Congress, the end of every general appropriation bill will include a “spending reduction” account. Pursuant to the standing order contained in section 3(j) of H.Res. 5 [115th Congress], Members may offer amendments much like a [section 2(f)] transfer amendment, but the amounts reduced may be placed in the spending reduction account in order to demonstrate that those funds are no longer available for further appropriation during consideration of the bill. If the bill contains a rescission, the amount of the rescission cannot be increased and that amount dedicated to the spending reduction account.
Additionally, it is not in order to offer an amendment to reduce the amount of the spending reduction account. En bloc amendments offered pursuant to this standing order are not divisible.
From the Section-by-Section on H.Res. 5 (115th Congress)
The following excerpt from the section-by-section for H. Res. 5 (115th Congress), placeddin the Congressional Record by the House Leadership, describes the amendments made by the House to SRAs for the 115th Congress:
Spending Reduction Amendments in Appropriations Bills. Subsection (e) modifies and carries forward the prohibition from the 112th, 113th, and 114th Congresses against consideration of a general appropriation bill that does not include a “spending reduction account.” The subsection updates the definition of a spending reduction account to state a recitation of the amount by which an applicable allocation of new budget authority under section 302(b) (Appropriations subcommittee allocations) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 exceeds the amount of new budget authority proposed by the bill, or if no such allocation is in effect, $0.