SEC. 257. THE BASELINE.
(a) In General.—For any budget year, the baseline refers to a projection of current-year levels of new budget authority, outlays, revenues, and the surplus or deficit into the budget year and the outyears based on laws enacted through the applicable date.
(b) Direct Spending and Receipts.—For the budget year and each outyear, the baseline shall be calculated using the following assumptions:
(1) In general.—Laws providing or creating direct spending and receipts are assumed to operate in the manner specified in those laws for each such year and funding for entitlement authority is assumed to be adequate to make all payments required by those laws.
(2) Exceptions.—(A)(i) No program established by a law enacted on or before the date of enactment of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 with estimated current year outlays greater than $50,000,000 shall be assumed to expire in the budget year or the outyears. The scoring of new programs with estimated outlays greater than $50,000,000 a year shall be based on scoring by the Committees on Budget or OMB, as applicable. OMB, CBO, and the Budget Committees shall consult on the scoring of such programs where there are differences between CBO and OMB.
(ii) On the expiration of the suspension of a provision of law that is suspended under section 171 of Public Law 104–127 and that authorizes a program with estimated fiscal year outlays that are greater than $50,000,000, for purposes of clause (i), the program shall be assumed to continue to operate in the same manner as the program operated immediately before the expiration of the suspension.
(B) The increase for veterans’ compensation for a fiscal year is assumed to be the same as that required by law for veterans’ pensions unless otherwise provided by law enacted in that session.
(C) Excise taxes dedicated to a trust fund, if expiring, are assumed to be extended at current rates.
(D) If any law expires before the budget year or any outyear, then any program with estimated current year outlays greater than $50,000,000 that operates under that law shall be assumed to continue to operate under that law as in effect immediately before its expiration.
(3) Hospital insurance fund.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the receipts and disbursements of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund shall be included in all calculations required by this Act.
(d) Discretionary Appropriations.—For the budget year and each outyear, the baseline shall be calculated using the following assumptions regarding all amounts other than those covered by subsection (b):
(1) Inflation of current-year appropriations.—Budgetary resources other than unobligated balances shall be at the level provided for the budget year in full-year appropriation Acts. If for any account a full-year appropriation has not yet been enacted, budgetary resources other than unobligated balances shall be at the level available in the current year, adjusted sequentially and cumulatively for expiring housing contracts as specified in paragraph (2), for social insurance administrative expenses as specified in paragraph (3), to offset pay absorption and for pay annualization as specified in paragraph (4), for inflation as specified in paragraph (5), and to account for changes required by law in the level of agency payments for personnel benefits other than pay.
(2) Expiring housing contracts.—New budget authority to renew expiring multiyear subsidized housing contracts shall be adjusted to reflect the difference in the number of such contracts that are scheduled to expire in that fiscal year and the number expiring in the current year, with the per-contract renewal cost equal to the average current-year cost of renewal contracts.
(3) Social insurance administrative expenses.—Budgetary resources for the administrative expenses of the following trust funds shall be adjusted by the percentage change in the beneficiary population from the current year to that fiscal year: the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Medical Insurance Trust Fund, the Unemployment Trust Fund, and the railroad retirement account.
(4) Pay annualization; offset to pay.—Current-year new budget authority for Federal employees shall be adjusted to reflect the full 12-month costs (without absorption) of any pay adjustment that occurred in that fiscal year.
(5) Inflators.—The inflator used in paragraph (1) to adjust budgetary resources relating to personnel shall be the percent by which the average of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Cost Index (wages and salaries, private industry workers) for that fiscal year differs from such index for the current year. The inflator used in paragraph (1) to adjust all other budgetary resources shall be the percent by which the average of the estimated gross domestic product chain-type price index for that fiscal year differs from the average of such estimated index for the current year.
(6) Current-year appropriations.—If, for any account, a continuing appropriation is in effect for less than the entire current year, then the current-year amount shall be assumed to equal the amount that would be available if that continuing appropriation covered the entire fiscal year. If law permits the transfer of budget authority among budget accounts in the current year, the current-year level for an account shall reflect transfers accomplished by the submission of, or assumed for the current year in, the President’s original budget for the budget year.
(d) Up-To-Date Concepts.—In deriving the baseline for any budget year or outyear, current-year amounts shall be calculated using the concepts and definitions that are required for that budget year.
(e) Asset Sales.—Amounts realized from the sale of an asset shall not be included in estimates under section 251, 252, or 253 if that sale would result in a financial cost to the Federal Government as determined pursuant to scorekeeping guidelines.
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017
Pub. L. 115–31
131 Stat. 135, 803
May 5, 2017
H.R. 244 (115th Congress)
‘‘(3) Baseline .—The baseline established pursuant to section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Deficit Control Act of 1985 (2 U.S.C. 907(b)(2)) for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program shall be recorded by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office at the level prior to any transfers recorded pursuant to section 413(h) of this Act.’’.
 Section 171 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and
Reform Act of 1996 (also known as the “Freedom to Farm Act“) (Pub. L. 104-127), the enacted 1996 farm bill, temporarily suspended provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agricultural Act of 1949 which provided permanent authority for price support of certain agricultural commodities. The section made the temporary suspension of permanent agricultural price support law effective for the 1996 through 2002 crops of these commodities and from the date of enactment of the 1996 farm bill’s Title I through December 31, 2002 for milk.
 In Scorekeeping Rules, Rule 10 reads as follows:
“Appropriations bills or reports should contain language that clearly specifies the extent to which funds for pay raises are either provided or absorbed within the levels appropriated in the bill, or remain to be provided.”
In this context, the baseline should assume that pay levels are provided in amounts apart from the levels appropriated.
 The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a statistical agency within the Department of Labor. Its “Employment Cost Index” measures the change in the cost of labor, without regard to employment shifts among occupations and industries. It is published in the month following the reference months of March, June, September, and December.
This section is classified to the U.S. Code at 2 U.S.C. 907.
Legislative History Notes
Pub. L. 99–177, title II, §257, formerly §§251(a)(6)(I), 257, Dec. 12, 1985, 99 Stat. 1092 (Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985).
Pub. L. 100–119, title I, §§102(a), (b)(4)–(8), 104(c)(2), 106(b), Sept. 29, 1987, 101 Stat. 754, 773, 774, 777, 780 (Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987); renumbered §257.
Pub. L. 101–508, title XIII, §13101(b), (e)(1), (2), Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388–589 , 1388-591, 1388-593 (Budget Enforcement Act of 1990) amended the original section 257, moving then paragraph (12) to section 250(c) of BBEDCA.
Pub. L. 105–33, title X, §10209(a), Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 710 (Budget Enforcement Act of 1997).
Pub. L. 113–67, div. A, title I, §121(9), Dec. 26, 2013, 127 Stat. 1175 (Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013).
References in Text
When subsection (b)(3) refers to “this Act”, it means the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Pub. L. 99–177, Dec. 12, 1985, 99 Stat. 1037), as amended. BBEDCA had the following effects in the U.S. Code:
In Title 2, The Congress:
Enacted chapter 20
Enacted §§654 to 656
Amended §§631 to 642
Amended §§651 to 653
In Title 31, Title 31, Money and Finance:
Amended §§1104 to 1106
In Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare:
Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013
Section 121 of Pub. L. 113–67 (BBA 2013) substituted “differences” for “differenes”.
Budget Enforcement Act of 1997
“No program with estimated current-year outlays greater than $50 million shall be assumed to expire in the budget year or outyears.”
Pub. L. 105–33, §10209(a)(2), added subparagraph (D).
Pub. L. 105–33, §10209(a)(3), substituted “domestic product chain-type price index” for “national product fixed-weight price index”.
Pub. L. 105–33, §10209(a)(4), added Subsection (e) and struck out former Subsection (e) which read as follows:
The sale of an asset or prepayment of a loan shall not alter the deficit or produce any net deficit reduction in the budget baseline, except that the budget baseline estimate shall include asset sales mandated by law before September 18, 1987, and routine, ongoing asset sales and loan prepayments at levels consistent with agency operations in fiscal year 1986;
Pub. L. 101–508, §13101(e)(1), amended section generally, substituting provisions relating to baseline for provisions relating to definitions.
Pub. L. 101–508, §13101(e)(2), redesignated section 901(a)(6)(I) of this Title 2, The Congress, as Subsection (e) of this section, and substituted “The” for “assuming, for purposes of this paragraph and subparagraph (A)(i) of paragraph (3), that the”.
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(a), amended section 901 of this title generally, adding Subsection (a)(6)(I). See 1990 Amendment note above.
Pub. L. 100–119, §104(c)(2), struck out provisions of former subparagraph (A) that “automatic spending increase” meant increases in budget outlays due to changes in indexes in the following Federal programs:
“Black lung benefits (20-8144-0-7-601);
“Central Intelligence Agency retirement and disability system fund (56-3400-0-1-054);
“Civil service retirement and disability fund (24-8135-0-7-602);
“Comptrollers general retirement system (05-0107-0-1-801);
“Foreign service retirement and disability fund (19-8186-0-7-602);
“Judicial survivors’ annuities fund (10-8110-0-7-602);
“Longshoremen’s and harborworkers’ compensation benefits (16-9971-0-7-601);
“Military retirement fund (97-8097-0-7-602);
“National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration retirement (13-1450-0-1-306);
“Pensions for former Presidents (47-0105-0-1-802);
“Railroad retirement tier II (60-8011-0-7-601);
“Retired pay, Coast Guard (69-0241-0-1-403);
“Retirement pay and medical benefits for commissioned officers, Public Health Service (75-0379-0-1-551);
“Special benefits, Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (16-1521-0-1-600);
“Special benefits for disabled coal miners (75-0409-0-1-601); and
“Tax Court judges survivors annuity fund (23-8115-0-7-602).”
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(b)(4), amended paragraph (7) generally. Prior to amendment, paragraph (7) read as follows: “The terms ‘sequester’ and ‘sequestration’ (subject to section 902(a)(4) of this title) refer to or mean the cancellation of new budget authority, unobligated balances, obligated balances, new loan guarantee commitments, new direct loan obligations, and spending authority as defined in section 651(c)(2) of this title, and the reduction of obligation limitations.”
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(b)(5), added paragraph (9).
Pub. L. 100–119, §106(b), added paragraph (10).
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(b)(6), added paragraph (11).
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(b)(7), added paragraph (12).
Pars. (13) and (14).
Pub. L. 100–119, §102(b)(8), added pars. (13) and (14).
Definition of Terms Used in Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985
Pub. L. 101–163, title III, §315, Nov. 21, 1989, 103 Stat. 1066 (Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1990), provided that:
Effective in the case of this Act and any subsequent Act making appropriations for the Legislative Branch, for purposes of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Public Law 99–177), as amended [see Short Title note set out under section 900 of this title], or any other Act which requires a uniform percentage reduction in accounts in this Act and any subsequent Act making appropriations for the Legislative Branch, the accounts under the general heading ‘Senate’, and the accounts under the general heading ‘House of Representatives’, shall each be considered to be one appropriation account and one ‘program, project, and activity’.
Hereafter, for purposes of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Public Law 99–177), as amended [see Short Title note set out under section 900 of this title], the term ‘program, project, and activity’ shall be synonymous with each appropriation account in this Act [see Tables for classification], except that the accounts under the general heading ‘House of Representatives’ shall be considered one appropriation account and one ‘program, project, and activity’, and the accounts under the general heading ‘Senate’ shall be considered one appropriation account and one ‘program, project, and activity’.
Cost-of-Living Adjustments in Certain Federal Benefits
(a) In General.—Benefits which are payable in calendar year 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, or 1991, under programs listed in section 257(1)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Public Law 99–177), [2 U.S.C. 907(1)(A)], including any cost-of-living adjustment in such benefits, shall not be subject to modification, suspension, or reduction in such calendar year pursuant to a Presidential order issued under such Act [see Short Title note set out under 2 U.S.C. 900].
(b) Definitions.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘cost-of-living adjustment’ means any increase or change in the amount of a benefit or in standards relating to such benefit under any provision of Federal law which requires such increase or change as a result of any change in the Consumer Price Index (or any component thereof) or any other index which measures costs, prices, or wages.
Notes from the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990
The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 amended section 257 (BBEDCA) by moving the “definitions” in that section to section 250(c) (BBEDCA). The definitions are included below under Section 257 Definitions Prior to the BEA 1990. The following is from the Joint Explanatory Statement of Managers on the Conference Report on BEA 1990, which details the transfer of definitions from section 257 to 250:
Joint Statement H. Rpt. 101-964 (Budget Enforcement Act of 1990)
TITLE XIII-BUDGET ENFORCEMENT
Section 257 of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings defined the terms “automatic spending increase,” “budget outlays,” “budget authority,” “concurrent resolution on the budget,” “deficit,” “maximum deficit amount,” “real economic growth,” “sequester,” “sequestration,” “account,” “sequesterable resource,” “margin,” “prepayment of a loan,” “outlay rate,” and “combined outlay rate.”
Specifically, section 257 defines “margin” to mean $10 billion for fiscal years 1988 through 1992 and zero for fiscal year 1993. If the deficit exceeds the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets by less then the margin through fiscal year 1992, a sequester order is not triggered.
The House bill moves the definitions section to a new section 250 and retains or revises the definitions of “outlays,” “budget authority,” “maximum deficit amount,” “real economic growth,” “sequester,” “sequestration,” “account,” and “prepayment of a loan.” The House bill adds to the definitions section new definitions for “breach,” “category,” “baseline,” “budgetary resources,” “discretionary appropriations,” “direct spending,” “current,” “sale of an asset,” “budget year,” “current year,” “outyear,” “OMB,” and “CBO,” but strikes definitions for “automatic spending increase,” “concurrent resolution on the budget,” “deficit,” sequesterable resources,” “outlay rate,” and “combined outlay rate.” Finally, the House bill redefines “margin” to mean $15 billion for fiscal year 1994 and 1995 (minus any authorized outlay adjustments).
The Senate amendment redefines “margin” to mean zero for fiscal years 1991 through 1993 and $15 billion for fiscal years 1994 and 1995. Other than in the definition of “Margin,” the Senate amendment makes no changes in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings definitions.
The conference agreement accepts the definition changes proposed by the House, except that no definition of “sale of an asset” is provided. Additionally “margin” is redefined to mean zero for fiscal years 1992 and 1993 and $15 billion for fiscal years 1994 1995.
H. Rep. 101-964 (Conference Report, pp. 1170-71) 101st Cong., 2d Sess. (1990).
Notes: Section 257 Definitions Prior to the BEA 1990
SEC. 257. DEFINITIONS.
For purposes of this title:
(1) The term “automatic spending increase” (except as otherwise provided in sections 255 and 256) means increases in budget outlays due to changes in indexes in the following Federal programs:
National Wool Act (12-4336–0-3-351);
Special milk program (12-3502-0-1-605); and
Vocational rehabilitation (91-0301-0-1-506).
For purposes of the preceding provisions of this paragraph, programs are identified by the designated budget account identification code numbers set forth in the Budget of the United States Government, 1986-Appendix.
(2) The terms “budget outlays” and “budget authority” have the meaning given to such terms in sections 3(1) and 3(2), respectively, of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
(3) The term “concurrent resolution on the budget” has the meaning given to such term in section 3(4) of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
(4) The term “deficit” has the meaning given to such term in section 3(6) of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
(5) The term “maximum deficit amount”, with respect to any fiscal year, means the maximum deficit amount for such fiscal year determined under section 3(7) of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
(6) The term “real economic growth”, with respect to any fiscal year, means the growth in the gross national product during such fiscal year, adjusted for inflation, consistent with Department of Commerce definitions.
(7) The terms “sequester” and “sequestration” (subject to section 252(a)(4)) refer to or mean the reduction or cancellation of new budget authority; unobligated balances, new loan guarantee commitments or limitations; new direct loan obligations, commitments, or limitations; spending authority as defined m section 401(c)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974; and obligation limitations.
(8) The term “account” means an item for which appropriations are made in any appropriation Act used to determine the budget base, and, for items not provided for in appropriation Acts, such term means an item for which there is a designated budget account identification code number in the Appendix to the President’s budget.
(9) The term “sequesterable resource” means new budget authority; unobligated balances; new loan guarantee commitments or limitations; new direct loan obligations, commitments, or limitations; spending authority as defined in section 401(c)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974; and obligation limitations for budget accounts, programs, projects, and activities that are not exempt from reduction or sequestration under this part.”.
(10) The term “margin” means $10,000,000,000 with respect to each of fiscal years 1988 through 1992 and zero with respect to fiscal year 1993.
(11) As used in this part, all references to section 401(c)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 shall include (but are not limited to) payments to any person or government under terms of law for the following programs:
(A) Claims, defense (97-0102-0-1-051).
(B) Veterans compensation (36-0153-0-1-701).
(C) Veterans pensions (36-0154-0-1-701).
(D) Burial benefits and miscellaneous assistance (36- 155-0-1-701).
(E) Readjustment benefits (36-0137-0-1-702).
(F) Loan guaranty revolving fund (86-4025-0-3-704).
(G) Guaranteed student loans (91-0230-0-1-502).
(H) Social services block grant (75-1634-0-1-506).
(I) Family social services (75-1645-0-1-506).
(J) Rehabilitation services and handicapped research (91-0301-0-1-506).
(K) Grants to States for medicaid (75-0512-0-1-551).
(L) Special benefits for disabled coal miners (75-0409-0- 1-601).
(M) Black lung disability trust fund (20-8144-0-7-601).
(N) Special benefits (16-1521-0-1-602).
(O) Federal unemployment benefits and allowances (16-0326-0-1-603).
(P) Supplemental security income program (75-0406-0- 1-609).
(Q) Family support payments to States (75-1501-0-1- 609).
(R) Food stamp program (12-3505-0-1-605).
(S) Child nutrition programs (12-3539-0-1-605).
(T) Retired pay, coast guard (69-0241-0-1-403).
(U) Government payment for annuitants, employees’ health benefits (24-0206-0-1-551).”.
(12) The sale of an asset means the sale to the public of any asset, whether physical or financial, owned in whole or in part by the United States. The term “prepayment of a loan” means payments to the United States made in advance of the schedules set by law or contract when the financial asset is first acquired, such as the prepayment to the Federal Financing Bank of loans guaranteed by the Rural Electrification Administration. If a law or contract allows a flexible payment schedule, the term “in advance” shall mean in advance of the slowest payment schedule allowed under such law or contract.”
(13) The term “outlay rate”, with respect to any budget account, program, project, or activity, means-
(A) the ratio of outlays resulting in the fiscal year involved from new budgetary resources for such budget account, program, project, or activity to such new budgetary resources; or
(B) the ratio of outlays resulting in the fiscal year involved from unobligated balances for such budget account, program, project, or activity to such unobligated balances.
(14) The term “combined outlay rate”, with respect to any budget account, program, project, or activity, means the weighted average (by budgetary resources) of the ratios determined under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (13) for such budget account, program, project, or activity.
Legislative History Endnotes
 This Act has no short title. Its long title is “A joint resolution making further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 1988, and for other purposes.”
 When the BEA 1990 moved definitions to section 250, it revised the definition of “margin”, placing it in section 253, and it read as follows:
“The ‘margin’ for fiscal year 1992 or 1993 is zero and for fiscal year 1994 or 1995 is $15,000,000,000.”