The basic framework that is currently using a congressional review of budget policy created in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which provides for the annual adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget as a mechanism for setting forth aggregate levels of spending, the surplus or deficit, and public debt. The Budget Act also established standing committees in both chambers of Congress with jurisdiction over, among other things, the concurrent resolution on the budget. This report describes the structure and responsibilities of the Committee on the Budget in the House of Representatives.
The rules of the House require that the Budget Committee’s membership be composed of five members from the Committee on Ways and Means, five members of the Committee on Appropriations, and one member of the Committee on Rules. The Committee on Ways and Means exercises sole jurisdiction over revenue-raising matters, and the Appropriations Committee exercises exclusive jurisdiction over discretionary spending. Granting these committees guaranteed representation on the Budget Committee provides them with an avenue for continuing involvement in decisions affecting their court’s jurisdiction.
Under House rules, members of the House Budget Committee may not serve more than four in any six successive Congresses. Although the Budget Act does not prohibit the creation of subcommittees, the Budget Committee has never had them. The committee establishes ad hoc task forces to study specific issues at certain times.
This domain protects under the Budget Act, which states that no bill, resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report dealing with any matter within the jurisdiction of the Budget Committee shall consider in the House.
Over the years, the duties and responsibilities of the Budget Committee have established in statute, as well as House Rules. This report discusses the Budget Committee’s responsibilities under the following categories: the budget resolution, reconciliation, budget process reform, oversight of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), revisions of allocations and adjustments, and scorekeeping.
The Budget Committee is responsible for developing the annual budget resolution. The budget resolution is a mechanism for setting forth aggregate levels of spending, revenue, the deficit or surplus, and public debt. Its purpose is to create enforceable parameters within which Congress can consider legislation dealing with spending and income. The budget resolution also often includes other matters such as reconciliation directives or procedures necessary to carry out the Budget Act.
In developing the budget resolution, the Budget Committee examines a budget outlook report that includes baseline budget projections presented to Congress by the CBO.
The Budget Committee also receives and considers the budget request submitted by the President, and then holds hearings at which they hear testimony from officials who justify and explain the President’s budget recommendations. These include the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and secretaries of each department, as well as other presidential advisors. Also, CBO issues a report that analyzes the President’s budget and compares it to CBO’s economic and technical assumptions.
The Budget Committee also gathers information from the other committees of the House. The Budget Committee holds hearings at which individual Members testify.
During deliberation on the budget resolution, it has been the policy of the Budget Committee to use as a starting point the baseline data prepared by CBO. The Budget Committee then develops and marks up the budget resolution before reporting it to the full House. In marking up the budget resolution, the Budget Committee first considers budget aggregates, functional categories, and other appropriate matter, allowing the offering of amendments. Since the budget resolution is a concurrent resolution, once the House and Senate each adopt their version of the budget resolution, they typically agree to go to conference to reconcile the differences between the two versions.
Members of the Budget Committee represent the House in these inter-chamber negotiations. Upon agreement on a conference report, a joint explanatory statement is written to accompany the story. Budget decisions sometimes include reconciliation instructions that instruct committees to develop legislation that will change current revenue or direct spending laws to conform to policies established in the budget resolution. The Budget Committee can choose to include this in the budget resolution that they report to the full chamber.
If the adopted budget resolution does include reconciliation instructions, committees respond by drafting legislative language to meet their specified targets. If only a single committee is instructed to recommend reconciliation changes, then those changes are reported directly to the chamber without packaging by the Budget Committee.
The Budget Committee is not permitted to revise the reconciliation legislation substantively as recommended by the instructed committees, even if a committee’s recommendations do not reach the dollar levels in the reconciliation instructions included in the budget resolution.
Since 1995, House Rules have provided that the Budget Committee shall have jurisdiction over the budget process. Includes studying on a continuing basis proposals to improve or reform the budget process, including both single and comprehensive changes to the budget process. These rule changes can be proposed as a provision in the budget resolution, or as a separate measure. When considering budget reform, the Budget Committee may create a task force to research potential change issues. The Budget Act expressly provides that a budget resolution reported from the Budget Committee that includes any matter or procedure that would change any rule of the House would trigger a referral to the House Rules Committee.
In addition to creating the House and Senate Budget Committees, the Budget Act also established the CBO. House rules state that the Budget Committee shall be responsible for oversight of the CBO. Specifically, the rules state that the Committee shall review on a continuing basis the conduct by the CBO of its functions and duties. This oversight can include hearings at which CBO’s practices examined.
The Budget Committee also plays a role in the selection of the Director of CBO. The Budget Act states that both the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall appoint the Director of the CBO after receiving recommendations from the House and Senate Budget Committees.
The Budget Act also allows for further revisions to the budget resolution. The Budget Committee is responsible for making summary budget scorekeeping reports available to the Members of the House on at least a monthly basis. Scorekeeping is the process of measuring the budgetary effects of pending and enacted legislation against the levels recommended in the budget resolution to determine if proposed changes would violate the standards outlined in the budget resolution. If a Member raises a point of order that law or an amendment considered on the floor violates fiscal limits, the Parliamentarian focuses on the estimates provided by the Budget Committee in the form of scorekeeping reports to advise the presiding officer regarding whether the legislative matter is out of order.