Enactment of a Law
The Congressional Budget Process
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was enacted
in 1974 as a means for Congress to establish national budget priorities
and the appropriate level of total revenues, expenditures, and debt for
each year. Moreover, it provided for strict time limits in dealing with
Presidential attempts to impound funds already appropriated either through
deferrals or rescissions.
The Act has been amended so as to curb the practice of imposing unfunded
Federal mandates on States and local governments, as well as to give the
President line item veto authority with respect to appropriations, new
direct spending, and limited tax benefits. There has also been added to
the statutes a provision allowing the two Houses of Congress to vote in
an expeditious manner to reject rules issued by executive agencies.
Congress acts on a concurrent resolution on the budget in the spring
of each year. This resolution sets levels of new budget authority and spending,
revenue, and debt levels. However, Congress may adopt a later budget resolution
that revises or reaffirms the most recently adopted budget resolution.
One of the mechanisms Congress uses to enforce projected budget authority
and spending, revenue, and debt levels is called the reconciliation process.
Under reconciliation, Congress in a budget resolution directs one or more
legislative committees to report bills or recommend changes in laws that
will achieve the levels of spending and revenues set by the budget resolution.
The directions to the committees specify the total amounts that must be
changed but leave to the discretion of the committees decisions about the
changes that must be made to achieve the required levels.
If only one committee has been directed to recommend changes, that
committee reports its reconciliation legislation directly to the floor
for consideration. If, however, more than one committee has been directed
to make changes, the committees report the recommended changes to the Committee
on the Budget. That committee then reports an omnibus reconciliation bill
to the floor for consideration by the whole Senate or House.
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