Congressional Budget Act of 1974
Section 303 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 does not generally take into consideration amounts of spending or revenue, but rather the time at which these budgetary effects may occur. The point of order lies against a measure that would cause have a budgetary effect before a concurrent resolution on the budget has been adopted for a fiscal year.
Section 303 is classified to the U.S. Code at 2 U.S.C. 634.
Deschler’s Precedents: Chapter 41 (Budget Process)
§ 9. Section 303
Section 303(a) of the Congressional Budget Act(1) provides that it shall not be in order in the House to consider a measure that first provides new budget authority in that fiscal year or first provides an increase or decrease in revenues(2 ) or the public debt limit for that fiscal year, before the adoption of the concurrent resolution on the budget.
Section 303(a) is fundamentally a timing point of order: it is no longer applicable to a given fiscal year after the adoption of a pertinent concurrent resolution on the budget. Its purpose is to prevent the consideration of certain fiscal measures prior to congressional adoption of a comprehensive budget framework, as represented by the concurrent resolution on the budget.
Unlike sections 302(3 ) and 311(4 ) of the Congressional Budget Act, section 303 does not contain language of causation and does not require the Chair to consider arguments on points of order focusing on levels of revenue or budget authority. Estimates as to such levels provided by the Committee on the Budget or the Congressional Budget Office, while potentially useful in maintaining scorekeeping consistency, are not conclusive as to points of order under section 303.(5 ) The Chair may take into account certain economic assumptions in evaluating the likely budgetary effects resulting from a change to existing law.(6 ) The Chair evaluates amendments on the basis of the marginal effect of the amendment on the underlying measure.(7 ) The point of order applies to bills, joint resolutions, motions, amendments(8 ) and conference reports.(9 )
The point of order is applicable to new entitlement authority.(10 ) In the Senate, the point of order also applies to measures increasing or decreasing outlays. The point of order in the Senate is also applicable to any fiscal years covered by the concurrent resolution on the budget, while in the House (as noted above), the point of order is only applicable to the first fiscal year covered by the resolution.
A special order may waive points of order under section 303 with respect to a bill, but leave amendments thereto unprotected by such waiver.(11)
In the 106th through the 112th Congresses, the House adopted a separate order on opening day(12 ) to evaluate section 303(a) points of order against reported bills or joint resolutions considered under a special order of business on the basis of either the text made in order as original text for purposes of amendment or the text on which the previous question is ordered directly to passage.
1. 2 USC § 634(a).
2. See § 9.5, infra.
3. See § 11, infra.
4. See § 10, infra.
5. See §§ 9.11, 9.12, infra.
6. See § 9.13, infra.
7. See § 9.10, infra.
8. See § 9.1, infra.
9. 2 USC § 634(a).
10. Section 303 originally applied to entitlement authority via a broad definition of ‘‘spending authority’’ (including both contract authority and entitlement authority) and later by an explicit textual reference in former section 303(a)(4) following the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings reforms of 1985. The Budget Enforcement Act of 1997 removed the explicit reference to entitlement authority in section 303, but the legislative history of that Act explains that entitlement authority would thereafter be scored as ‘‘budget authority’’ and thus would continue to be covered by that section. See H. Rept. 105–217, pp. 988, 989. The explicit reference to entitlement authority as applied to the Senate remains in current section 303(a)(4) of the Congressional Budget Act (2 USC § 634(a)(4)).
11. See § 9.4, infra.
12. 157 Cong. Rec H9 [Daily Ed.], 112th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 5, 2011 (H. Res. 5, sec. 3(a)(2)); 155 Cong. Rec 9, 111th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 6, 2009 (H. Res. 5, sec. 3(a)(2)); 153 Cong. Rec 19, 110th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 4, 2007 (H. Res. 6, sec. 511(a)(2)); 151 Cong. Rec 44, 109th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 4, 2005 (H. Res. 5, sec. 3(a)(2)); 149 Cong. Rec 10, 108th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 7, 2003 (H. Res. 5, sec. 3(a)(2)); 147 Cong. Rec 24, 107th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 3, 2001 (H. Res. 5, sec. 3(b)(2)); 145 Cong. Rec 47, 106th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 6, 1999 (H. Res. 5, sec. 2(a)(3)).
Section 303(b) of the Budget Act provides exceptions to this point of order in the House. The point of order does not apply to bills or joint resolutions providing discretionary new budget authority that first becomes available in the first or second year after the budget year (so-called ‘‘out-year’’ spending). It also does not apply to bills or joint resolutions increasing or decreasing revenues in any fiscal year after the fiscal year to which the budget resolution applies.(1)
Furthermore, after May 15, it is not applicable to any general appropriation bill or amendment. This exception allows the House to begin work on the annual general appropriation bills after May 15 even if Congress has, at that time, failed to agree to a concurrent resolution on the budget. Finally, under the terms of section 303, the point of order does not apply to any bills or joint resolutions not reported by committee. However, Rule XXI clause 8(2 ) provides that all points of order under title III of the Congressional Budget Act (including section 303(a)) apply to unreported measures, effectively negating this exception in section 303(b). Previously, the point of order under section 303(a) of the Budget Act did not lie against consideration of an unreported measure,(3 ) although a point of order did lie against an amendment to an unreported measure.(4)
Unlike appropriations, mere authorizations do not obligate funds to be drawn from the United States Treasury, and as such they do not engage section 303(a).(5 )
1. See § 9.8, infra.
2. House Rules and Manual § 1068c (2011). This clause was first adopted at the beginning of the 110th Congress.
3. See 141 Cong. Rec 8491, 104th Cong. 1st Sess., Mar. 21, 1995.
4. See § 9.6, infra.
5. See §§ 9.2, 9.3, infra.
Deschler’s Precedents of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume 18, Chapter 41, §9, p. 245-246.
Text from Title III of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:
concurrent resolution on the budget must be adopted before budget-related legislation is considered
Sec. 303. (a) In General.—Until the concurrent resolution on the budget for a fiscal year has been agreed to, it shall not be in order in the House of Representatives, with respect to the first fiscal year covered by that resolution, or the Senate, with respect to any fiscal year covered by that resolution, to consider any bill or joint resolution, amendment or motion thereto, or conference report thereon that—
(2) first provides an increase or decrease in revenues during that fiscal year;
(3) provides an increase or decrease in the public debt limit to become effective during that fiscal year;
(5) in the Senate only, first provides for an increase or decrease in outlays for that fiscal year.
(b) Exceptions in the House.—In the House of Representatives, subsection (a) does not apply—
(1)(A) to any bill or joint resolution, as reported, providing advance discretionary new budget authority that first becomes available for the first or second fiscal year after the budget year; or
(B) to any bill or joint resolution, as reported, first increasing or decreasing revenues in a fiscal year following the fiscal year to which the concurrent resolution applies;
(2) after May 15, to any general appropriation bill or amendment thereto; or
(3) to any bill or joint resolution unless it is reported by a committee.
(c) Application to Appropriation Measures in the Senate.—
(1) In general.—Until the concurrent resolution on the budget for a fiscal year has been agreed to and an allocation has been made to the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate under section 302(a) for that year, it shall not be in order in the Senate to consider any appropriation bill or joint resolution, amendment or motion thereto, or conference report thereon for that year or any subsequent year.
(2) Exception.—Paragraph (1) does not apply to appropriations legislation making advance appropriations for the first or second fiscal year after the year the allocation referred to in that paragraph is made.