Posts tagged ‘budget process’

A Guide to Reconciliation Legislation

Congress has utilized reconciliation more often than not, beginning in 1980. This special type of legislation is often used for implementing significant budget policies and for bringing existing revenue and spending law in line with policies in a budget resolution. Although reconciliation is an entirely optional process, it has been increasingly used in recent years.

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There are two stages to the reconciliation process: the adoption of reconciliation directives and the enactment of reconciliation legislation. Specific procedures for reconciliation can vary from year to year.

Reconciliation can provide an avenue for changing the amount of revenues, outlays or budget authority that is generated by existing law. In a rare number of cases, reconciliation has also been used for adjusting the public-debt limit.

The reconciliation process always begins with a directive in a budget resolution that instructs designated committees to recommend legislation that will change existing law. There are three components to such directives. First, they serve to identify the committee or committees that are directed to recommend legislation. Second, they specify the precise amounts of changes in outlays or revenues that are to be achieved by the changes in law. Third, directives typically establish a deadline by which committees must make recommend changes in law.

Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy SchneiderThe directives do not specify the way in which the changes are to be made, precisely which laws are to be changed, or the programs that are to be affected.

Committees maintain the discretion to determine the legislative changes that are to be recommended. While committees are not bound by any program change recommendations, it is expected that the committee will recommend legislation that will produce the amounts noted in the reconciliation directives.

Whenever multiple committees in the House and the Senate are subject to reconciliation directives, proposed legislative changes will be consolidated into an omnibus bill by the Budget Committees. The Byrd rule was adopted in 1985 as a way of curbing practices such as the inclusion of provisions that had no budgetary effect or that violated the jurisdiction of another committee.

Debate on reconciliation legislation by the Senate is limited to twenty hours. The Senate may choose to continue consideration of amendments, appeals and motions following those twenty hours, but no further debate is allowed on the subject.

For more information on reconciliation, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 2-day course in DC, Advanced Federal Budget Process.

Adapted from the Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Section 9.110 Reconciliation Legislation

For detailed information about the legislative and budget process, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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The Presidential Budget Process

Title III of the Congressional Budget Act requires that the President submit his proposed budget to Congress no later than the first Monday in February. The President’s budget is actually only a request made to Congress, and Congress is under no obligation to adopt the budget or consider the recommendations of the President.

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Preparation of the President’s Budget typically begins at least one year prior to the budget actually being submitted to Congress in February. The early phase of budget preparation occurs within the federal agencies. These agencies maintain ongoing contact with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) while they formulate their budgets.

Known officially as the Budget of the United States Government, the President’s budget contains a message from the president regarding the budget, major budgetary initiatives organized by department and agency, and performance data. The budget also contains an appendix that features detailed information on specific aspects of the budget, such as current services estimates, economic assumptions, crosscutting programs and aid to state and local governments. In addition, the budget will contain historical tables that provide data on budget authority, deficits and surpluses and federal debt.

Congressional Deskbook, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy SchneiderThe president will also submit an annual Economic Report of the President to Congress within a few days of transmitting his budget. This report contains a report of the Council of Economic Advisers. Furthermore, the president is required by law to update his submissions. This is typically done in a much briefer Mid-Session Review; available by July 15th. The president may also choose to revise recommendations at any point during the year, beyond the Mid-Session Review. Several locations provide online access to the President’s budget documents, including the Office of Management and Budget and the GPO.

A significant portion of the budget is actually an estimate regarding the requirements that exist under law, not a request for congressional action.

To learn more about the presidential budget process, consider TheCapitol.Net’s 1-day workshop, The President’s Budget, held each year in mid-February.

Source: Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress, by Michael L. Koempel and Judy Schneider, Sec. 9.40 Presidential Budget Process, and Sec 9.42 Formulation and Content of the President’s Budget.

For detailed information about the legislative and budget process, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:

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