BCA 2011 (Contents)

Budget Control Act of 2011

Section 202

Title II—Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment
SEC. 202. CONSIDERATION BY THE OTHER HOUSE.

(a) House Consideration.—

(1) Referral.—If the House receives a joint resolution described in section 201 from the Senate, such joint resolution shall be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. If the committee fails to report the joint resolution within five legislative days, it shall be in order to move that the House discharge the committee from further consideration of the joint resolution. Such a motion shall not be in order after the House has disposed of a motion to discharge the joint resolution. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to its adoption without intervening motion except twenty minutes of debate equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent. If such a motion is adopted, the House shall proceed immediately to consider the joint resolution in accordance with paragraph (3). A motion to reconsider the vote by which the motion is disposed of shall not be in order.

(2) Proceeding to consideration.—After the joint resolution has been referred to the appropriate calendar or the committee has been discharged (other than by motion) from its consideration, it shall be in order to move to proceed to consider the joint resolution in the House. Such a motion shall not be in order after the House has disposed of a motion to proceed with respect to the joint resolution. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the motion to its adoption without intervening motion. A motion to reconsider the vote by which the motion is disposed of shall not be in order.

(3) Consideration.—The joint resolution shall be considered as read. All points of order against the joint resolution and against its consideration are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the joint resolution to its passage without intervening motion except two hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent and one motion to limit debate on the joint resolution. A motion to reconsider the vote on passage of the joint resolution shall not be in order.

(b) Senate Consideration.—(1) If the Senate receives a joint resolution described in section 201 from the House of Representatives, such joint resolution shall be referred to the appropriate committee of the Senate. If such committee has not reported the joint resolution at the close of the fifth session day after its receipt by the Senate, such committee shall be automatically discharged from further consideration of the joint resolution and it shall be placed on the appropriate calendar.

(2) Consideration of the joint resolution and on all debatable motions and appeals in connection therewith, shall be limited to not more than 20 hours, which shall be divided equally between the majority and minority leaders or their designees. A motion further to limit debate is in order and not debatable. An amendment to, or a motion to postpone, or a motion to proceed to the consideration of other business, or a motion to recommit the joint resolution is not in order. Any debatable motion or appeal is debatable for not to exceed 1 hour, to be divided equally between those favoring and those opposing the motion or appeal. All time used for consideration of the joint resolution, including time used for quorum calls and voting, shall be counted against the total 20 hours of consideration.

(3) If the Senate has voted to proceed to a joint resolution, the vote on passage of the joint resolution shall be taken on or before the close of the seventh session day after such joint resolution has been reported or discharged or immediately following the conclusion of consideration of the joint resolution, and a single quorum call at the conclusion of the debate if requested in accordance with the rules of the Senate.

 

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COUNSEL NOTES

This section required each House of Congress to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution sometime in October, November, or December of 2011. Though this is a not a binding directive and no penalties are imposed for failure to comply, Congress considered three joint resolutions of the manner required:

Public Law: Budget Control Act of 2011, Pub. L. 112–25, 125 Stat. 240, Aug. 2, 2011, S. 365.

Classification to the U.S. Code

This section is not separately classified to the U.S. Code. 

References
Hearing

United States. Cong. Senate. Committee on Judiciary. The Perils of Constitutionalizing the Budget Debate, (S. Hr.g. 112-512) Nov. 30, 2011. 112th Cong. 1st sess. Washington: GPO, 20510.


Legislative History Notes
Public Laws

Pub. L. 112–25, §306, 125 Stat. 250. (Budget Control Act of 2011) 

Statutes at Large: Pub. L. 112–25, 125 Stat. 240, August. 2, 2011.


Summary of Debt Limit Increase Provision

The Democratic Caucus of the House summarized the debt limit increase provisions of BCA 2011 as follows:

Debt Limit Increase

The Act allows the debt limit to be raised by a total of up to $2.4 trillion, in two installments, and creates a procedure to allow Congress to disapprove the increases. The President may request a first increase of $900 billion immediately. After a request is made, the debt ceiling automatically increases by $400 billion, with the remaining $500 billion occurring unless Congress disapproves it. The President has already made this initial request.

If Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval and the President subsequently vetoes it, then Congress would need a vote of two-thirds or more to override the veto to prevent the debt limit from being increased. If the override fails, the debt limit is increased.

If Congress overrides the President’s veto, the $500 billion increase does not occur and there would be an automatic sequestration equal to the $400 billion increase that had already occurred. This sequester of spending would be an equal across-the-board cut in defense and non-defense spending, with most low-income spending programs exempt.

The second debt ceiling increase of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion would occur later, after the President requests it and subject to Congressional disapproval. If Congress has already approved a Constitutional “balanced budget” amendment or additional deficit reduction of at least $1.5 trillion, then the debt ceiling would be increased by $1.5 trillion. If Congress approves deficit reduction of between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion, then the debt ceiling would be increased by the amount of that deficit reduction. If Congress fails to approve at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, then the debt ceiling would be increased by $1.2 trillion and an automatic sequestration would occur (see Additional Deficit Reduction below for a more detailed description of the sequestration procedure and amounts).

House Budget Committee (Democratic Caucus), Summary of the Budget Control Act of 2011, August 3, 2011, Washington, DC 20515. 

The Peter Peterson Foundation also summarized the method by which the debt limit could be increased, also including a vote on the Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Budget:

Increasing the Debt Ceiling

The legislation creates a three-step mechanism for raising the debt ceiling, tying each step to a related phase of the deficit reduction process and Congressional disapproval.

First step: Upon the passage of the act, spending caps on discretionary spending go into effect. On August 2, the President certified that the government is within $100 billion of the debt limit, triggering a $400 billion increase in the debt ceiling.

Second step: If Congress and the President do not enact a resolution of disapproval within 50 days of receiving the President’s certification described above, the debt ceiling will be raised by an additional $500 billion, for a total of $900 billion. If Congress passes the disapproval resolution, the President can veto it, and unless the Congress overrides the veto (which is unlikely), the additional $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling will be available.

Third step: There are three ways that the debt ceiling can be increased by an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion once the President certifies that it is necessary:

Legislation proposed by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is enacted no later than January 15, 2012. If the committee comes up with—and Congress passes and the President signs—legislation that reduces deficits by $1.2-$1.5 trillion, the debt ceiling may be raised by that same amount (but could not exceed that amount.)

The ceiling can be raised by $1.2 trillion even if Congress and the President fail to enact joint committee legislation that achieves $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, but a process will be set in place to cut spending across the board (known as sequestration) beginning on January 2, 2013. The sequestration would cover the difference between enacted deficit reduction and the $1.2 trillion debt ceiling increase. This debt ceiling increase would also be subject to a Congressional resolution of disapproval described in step two, but Congress would have only 15 days to get a disapproval resolution enacted into law.

The debt ceiling also may be raised by the full $1.5 trillion should a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution pass both houses of Congress and be submitted to the states for ratification, but this is unlikely.

Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Analysis of the Budget Control Act of 2011, Aug 23, 2011,

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Sec. 201 (BCA) 

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Sec. 301 (BCA)

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