Cyclopedia of Congressional Budget Law

Reconciliation Resolution


Section 310 (CBA) authorizes the reconciliation process, whereby adopting a budget resolution may generate either a reconciliation bill or a reconciliation resolution. This latter form was originally intended to be the primary method by which changes in law were to be achieved through the budget process — by appropriation and entitlement bills to be held by the Clerks. After their initial  adoption, this gave Congress a chance to agree to a reconciliation resolution to change those bills before their enactment.

When section 310 was first enacted, it served two purposes: (1) It required a second budget resolution to be adopted by September 25 of each year. This resolution was to affirm or revise the most first budget resolution’s budget levels; (2) it permitted that resolution to include directives to committees to recommend changes in law to achieve the levels, a process known as “reconciliation”. As originally anticipated, reconciliation was to have appropriation and entitlement bills not enrolled after passing the House or Senate until any necessary reconciliation was made. Then a reconciliation resolution was to be adopted directing the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate to make the necessary changes in the bills being held.

Congress has instead turned exclusively to reconciliation bills, which are newly drafted by the Committees pursuant to the directives in a budget resolution. A reconciliation resolution has never been adopted.

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)

Reconciliation Resolution

A concurrent resolution (i.e., a resolution that the President does not sign) reported pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a congressional budget resolution directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the Secretary of the Senate to make specified changes in bills and joint resolutions that have not been enrolled to bring direct spending or revenue laws into conformity with the budget resolution.

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Reconciliation Instruction