Budget Process and Rules
Budget Resolution Drafted – The NFL isn’t the only entity that made key decisions for the future last week. On Thursday the Senate Budget Committee approved a FY 2011 budget resolution on a mostly party line 12-10 vote. It goes farther than the President’s budget request in aiming to reduce the deficit to 3 percent of GDP in 2015. The Bottom Line noted that this is a step in the right direction, though much more needs to be done.
The Senate Budget Committee yesterday approved of a fiscal year 2011 budget proposal by a largely party line 12-10 vote, setting up a heated floor fight over the budget resolution that will highlight the fiscal challenges facing the country.
Up-Hill Battle for the Budget – Democratic leaders in Congress are floating the possibility that there will be no budget resolution this year, citing election year pressures. Congress will definitely miss tomorrow’s deadline for producing a budget blueprint. The Hill faces a full agenda, including financial regulatory reform and a Supreme Court nomination.
The Hill reports that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has promised to block all future spending bills that are not fully “paid for.” He currently is leading a Republican effort in the Senate to deny a month-long extension of expanded unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and the Medicare “Doc fix” unless the $9 billion cost is fully offset.
If they Don’t Win It’s the Same – Opening Day presaged much of the same for Washington as the home team was clobbered. The White House hopes that the president’s opening pitch being off the mark is not an omen for the upcoming political season. The return of Congress -- still battered from the health care debate -- next week will kick-off a critical stretch that will determine if any other major legislation will be enacted this year, or if lawmakers will just play small ball until after the election.
Signaling bipartisan support for much-needed spending restraint, more than 100 members of the House and Senate are sponsoring legislation that would impose spending caps on discretionary spending. Nine bills imposing spending caps have been introduced in the House during the 111th Congress, while one bill has been introduced in the Senate.
For the United States Senate, which likes to be referred to as the "Upper Chamber," the term "vote-a-rama" does not sound too dignified. But the term, which could be some type of amusement park ride, will likely describe the Republican plan to slow down Democrats' plans to pass health reform through the budget reconciliation process. As bizarre as the budget process is, the "vote-a-rama" is a bit stranger.
Attempting to place a leash on federal spending, members of the Blue Dog Coalition are introducing legislation this week to reinstate discretionary spending caps. Led by Reps. Frank Kratovil of Maryland and Travis Childers of Mississippi, the legislation would impose caps that would cut non-security spending by nearly 2 percent in each of the next three fiscal years and then freeze those levels for an additional two years. The plan also would require a two-thirds vote in both houses for any "emergency" spending that would breach those limits.