BCA 2011 (Contents)

Budget Control Act of 2011

Section 201

Title II—Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment

After September 30, 2011, and not later than December 31, 2011, the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, shall vote on passage of a joint resolution, the title of which is as follows: “Joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”.



Sec. 106 (BCA) 


Sec. 202 (BCA)


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. 


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,


Sec. 106 (BCA) 


Sec. 202 (BCA)

[BCD § 295]