(Prepared by Majority Staff, Senate Budget Committee)
It is wrong to assert that there is no budget. The Budget Control Act enacted in August contained the budget for this year. It was passed by both the House and Senate, signed by the President, and enacted into law.
The Budget Control Act achieved all of the essential elements of a traditional budget – setting discretionary caps, providing enforcement mechanisms, and creating a process for addressing entitlement spending and revenues.
In many ways, the Budget Control Act was even more extensive than a traditional budget:
It has the force of law, unlike a budget resolution that is not signed by the President.
It set discretionary caps for 10 years, instead of the one year normally set in a budget resolution.
It provided enforcement mechanisms, including a two-year “deemer,” allowing budget points of order to be enforced.
And it addressed entitlement spending and revenues by creating the “Super Committee,” which was given explicit authority to reform entitlements and the tax code. The Super Committee process represented an enhanced version of the reconciliation process that can be established under a budget resolution. And it was further backed up with a $1.2 trillion sequester.
Republican rhetoric aside, Congress did pass a budget. The Republican-controlled House passed it; the Democratic Senate passed it; and the President signed it. The Budget Control Act set 10 years of spending caps; it established a two-year “deemer” to enforce spending levels; and it created a reconciliation-like process to consider entitlement and tax reform.
The Budget Control Act, passed by the Senate in August, set the federal budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 – a fact acknowledged in recent months by leading Senate Republicans:
Sen. Collins Called the Budget Control Act a “Budget Agreement” and a “Budget Plan.” “The budget agreement also requires a vote on a balanced budget Constitutional amendment by the end of the year…While I supported the budget plan recently passed by Congress, I did so with serious reservations.” [Collins Column, 8/5/11]
Sen. Grassley Called the Budget Control Act a “Budget Agreement.” “We should be doing those things not only in this budget agreement, this deficit reduction agreement, but in all the decisions we make in the Congress.” [Congressional Record, 8/1/11]Sen. Alexander Called the Budget Control Act a “Budget Agreement.” “The budget agreement we came to in August pretty well got 40 percent of the budget under control, the part we call discretionary spending – everything from national defense to national parks. It’s only growing at about the rate of inflation over the next 10 years.” [NPR, 9/22/11]