Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction
The Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction was a Congressional Joint Committee established as part of the fallback procedures included section 274 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Control Act of 1985, as enacted. It was established should the enforcement procedures included in it be found unconstitutional, which they subsequently were in Bowsher v. Synar. The Committee was constituted, then, to prepare a Congressionally initiated sequestration procedure rather than the one ordered one by the GAO Comptroller General that had been a primary factor in the laws unconstitutionality. The Joint Resolution, H. J. Res. 672 (99th Congress) prepared by that Committee failed of passage in the Senate. The Committee itself was repealed as part of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 (BBEDCRA) which restructured the sequestration process so that the Office of Management and Budget was to order the sequestration, thereby overcoming constitutional objections.
(f) Alternative Procedures For The Joint Reports of the Directors.—
(1) In the event that any of the reporting procedures described in section 251 are invalidated, then any report of the Directors referred to in section 251(a) or (c)(D shall be transmitted to the joint committee established under this subsection.
(2) Upon the invalidation of any such procedure there is established a Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, composed of the entire membership of the Budget Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Chairman of these two committees shall act as Co-Chairmen of the Joint Committee. Actions taken by the Joint Committee shall be determined by the majority vote of the members representing each House. The purposes of the Joint Committee are to receive the reports of the Directors as described in paragraph (1), and to report (with respect to each such report of the Directors) a joint resolution as described in paragraph (3).
(3) No later than 5 days after the receipt of a report of the Directors in accordance with paragraph (1), the Joint Committee shall report to the House of Representatives and the Senate a joint resolution setting forth the contents of the report of the Directors.
(4) The provisions relating to the consideration of a joint resolution under section 254(a)(4) shall apply to the consideration of a joint resolution reported pursuant to this subsection in the House of Representatives and the Senate, except that debate in each House shall be limited to two hours.
(5) Upon its enactment, the joint resolution shall be deemed to be the report received by the President under section 251(b) or (c)(2) (whichever is applicable).
From Bowsher v. Synar:
Anticipating constitutional challenge to these procedures, the Act also contains a “fallback” deficit reduction process to take effect “[i]n the event that any of the reporting procedures described in section 251 are invalidated.” § 274(f). Under these provisions, the report prepared by the Directors of OMB and the CBO is submitted directly to a specially [p719] created Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, which must report in five days to both Houses a joint resolution setting forth the content of the Directors’ report. Congress then must vote on the resolution under special rules, which render amendments out of order. If the resolution is passed and signed by the President, it then serves as the basis for a Presidential sequestration order.
Deschler’s Precedents: Section 26 of Chapter 41
Bowsher v. Synar
The U.S. Supreme Court held in Bowsher v. Synar, 478 U.S. 714 (1986), that the automatic sequestration process contemplated in [Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985] was unconstitutional. The Court’s holding was rooted in the constitutional principle of separation-of-powers. The sequestration process of section 251 established a mechanism whereby the Comptroller General, an official removable by Congress, would determine necessary budget cuts for a given fiscal year and the President would issue a sequestration order to implement such cuts. The Court held that the power vested in the Comptroller General was an executive power. Therefore, section 251 of [Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985] was found unconstitutional because it reserved for Congress, via the Comptroller General, the power to execute laws.
Following the Court’s decision, Congress relied on the fallback procedures contained in section 274 of [Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985]. That section provided for the creation of a Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, composed of all members of the House and Senate Budget Committees. Such joint committee, pursuant to the statute, was tasked with receiving the same budgetary reports from the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget as would have been provided to the Comptroller General, and propounding a joint resolution embodying those reports. The joint resolution implemented the cuts declared null and void by the Court.
 The Bowsher decision gave Congress 60 days to enact corrective legislation in response to the decision. Such corrective legislation was entitled to expedited procedures under section 258 of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings. For the announcement by the Speaker of the creation of the joint committee on deficit reduction, see 132 Cong. Rec. 16316, 99th Cong. 2d Sess., July 14, 1986. For House passage of the joint resolution enacting fiscal year 1986 cuts, see 132 Cong. Rec 16881, 16882, 16887, 16888, 99th Cong. 2d Sess., July 17, 1986 (H. J. Res. 672).
CBO: The Economic and Budget Outlook: An Update, A Report to the Senate and House Committees on the Budget
CBO included the following its Budget Outlook from August of 1986:
Spending Reductions Under the Balanced Budget Act
The Balanced Budget Act establishes a series of declining deficit targets, culminating in a balanced budget in fiscal year 1991. Both the President’s budget submissions and the Congressional budget resolution are required to meet these targets. The deficit target for 1987 is $144billion. Unless action is actually taken to reduce the deficit to within $10billion of this target level before the beginning of the fiscal year, the act provides special procedures to achieve the target. Although the Supreme Court has determined that the act’s provisions for automatic spending reductions are unconstitutional, the across-the-board reduction of budgetary resources (termed sequestration) remains an option to be used by the Congress under the fallback procedures provided in the law. Alternatively, the Congress may reach the target through another package of deficit reduction measures. Legislation is also pending in the Congress to restore some form of automatic deficit reduction procedures.
The process for fiscal year 1987 begins later this month. On August 20, the Directors of the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget will send the Congress a joint report. The law requires that the report include:
—Estimated budget base levels as of August 15 and the amount by which the projected 1987 deficit exceeds $144 billion;
—CBO and OMB economic assumptions, including their estimates of the rate of real economic growth; and
—The amounts and percentages by which various budgetary resources must be reduced in order to eliminate any deficit excess.
Unless the Balanced Budget Act is amended before August 20, this report will be referred to the Temporary Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, which is composed of the entire membership of the House and Senate Committees on the Budget. Within five days of the end of the Congressional recess on September 8, the Joint Committee shall report a joint resolution providing for the sequestration of budgetary resources exactly as specified in the CBO/OMB report. A vote on final passage of the joint resolution shall be taken within five days after it is reported. No amendment to the resolution may be considered, and debate is limited to two hours. If enacted, the joint resolution would constitute an initial sequestration order, which would withhold budgetary resources at the start of the fiscal year on October 1. [Italics added]
[The Economic and Budget Outlook: An Update, A Report to the Senate and House Committees on the Budget, Congressional Budget Office, Washington, D.C., August 1986, pp. 52-53]