[Deschler's Precedents, Volume 3, Chapters 10 - 14]
[Chapter 13. Powers and Prerogatives of the House]
[D. Congress and the Budget; Impoundment]
[§ 21. In General; Congressional Budget Act]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

[Page 1888-1899]
                               CHAPTER 13
                  Powers and Prerogatives of the House
Sec. 21. In General; Congressional Budget Act

    Concern about escalating federal spending immediately after World 
War II resulted in enactment of a budget procedure in the Legislative 
Reorganization Act of 1946. Under this procedure, the House Committee 
on Ways and Means and Committee on Appropriations, and the Senate 
Committee on Finance and Committee on Appropriations or their sub

[[Page 1889]]

committees were required to meet jointly, report out a legislative 
budget, and submit a concurrent resolution adopting the 
budget.(8) This procedure was designed to coordinate revenue 
with expenditures and thereby more readily identify and limit 
 8. See Sec. 21.2, infra, for an illustration of this concurrent 
 9. For discussion of the role of Congress in the budget process, see, 
        Fenno, Richard F., Jr., The Power of the Purse, Little, Brown 
        and Co., Inc. (1966); Pressman, Jeffrey L., House v Senate, 
        Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn. (1966); Wallace, Robert 
        Ash, Congressional Control of Federal Spending, Wayne State 
        University Press, Detroit, Mich. (1960).
            This section has been compiled by Norah Schwarz, J.D., and 
        has been drawn in part from a report of the House Committee on 
        the Budget entitled ``The Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
        Control Act of 1974: A General Explanation,'' November 1974.

    However, until the adoption of the Congressional Budget and 
Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the Congress lacked a comprehensive 
uniform mechanism for establishing priorities among its budgetary goals 
and for determining national economic policy regarding the federal 
budget. Despite periodic efforts to centralize budget authority in 
appropriations committees, budget responsibility remained fragmented 
throughout the Congress. Both taxing and spending actions were taken 
over a period of many months and by way of many different legislative 
measures. The size of the budget, and whether it should be in surplus 
or deficit, were not subject to effective controls. The budget process 
was, in fact, merely the sum of dozens of isolated and usually 
unrelated actions. Backdoor spending--that is, spending outside the 
regular appropriation process--represented a significant percentage of 
all spending. And outlays (that is, actual expenditures) were not 
always controlled by Congress, since congressional budget actions often 
reached only to the authority to obligate funds, resulting in little 
direct relationship in some cases between congressional budget actions 
and actual expenditures in any given year.
    In 1972, the Congress established a Joint Study Committee on Budget 
Control and directed it to study:

            . . . [T]he procedures which should be adopted by the 
        Congress for the purpose of improving congressional control of 
        budget outlay and receipt totals, including procedures for 
        establishing and maintaining an overall view of each year's 
        budgetary outlays which is fully coordinated with an overall 
        view of anticipated revenues for that year.(10)
10. Pub. L. No. 92-599, 92d Cong. 2d Sess.


[[Page 1890]]

    The joint committee issued its final report in April 
1973,(11) and legislation was introduced in both Houses to 
implement the report's recommendations, including the addition of anti-
impoundment procedures. Both Houses overwhelmingly approved the 
measure, which became known as the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act of 1974 (hereinafter referred to as ``the Act''). The bill 
was signed into law July 12, 1974, as Public Law No. 93-344.
11. See 119 Cong. Rec. 13162, 13163, 93d Cong. 1st Sess., Apr. 18, 

Summary of the Act

    The Act (12) consists of 10 titles which, for purposes 
of explanation, can be grouped into categories (to be discussed more 
fully below), as follows:
12. See 31 USC Sec. Sec. 1301 et seq.

            Title I and title II established new committees on the 
        budget in both the House and the Senate, and a Congressional 
        Budget Office designed to improve Congress' informational and 
        analytical resources with respect to the budgetary process.
            Title III and title IV set forth a timetable and new 
        procedures for various phases of the congressional budget 
        process. Title V provides for a new fiscal year.
            Title VI spells out the information to be included in the 
        President's budget submissions and amends section 201 of the 
        1921 Budget and Accounting Act to so provide. The procedures 
        for program review and evaluation are explained in title VII. 
        Title VIII provides for standardization of budget terminology 
        and availability of information to Congress, while title IX 
        sets out the effective date for various provisions of the Act.
            Title X establishes procedures for congressional review of 
        Presidential impoundment actions.

Budget Committees

    The Act establishes a new standing committee in each House known as 
the Committee on the Budget. The rules of the House were amended to 
provide for the Committee on the Budget and membership 
thereon.(13) The House Budget Committee was originally 
composed of 23 members: five from the Committee on Appropriations, five 
from the Committee on Ways and Means, 11 from other House standing 
committees and one member each from the majority and minority 
leadership.(14) Membership on this committee was increased 
to 25, pursuant to a resolution of the House (15) which 
provided for 13 members to be elected from other standing committees of 
the House.
13. This committee was established pursuant to the Act (Sec. 101) in 
        the 93d Congress effective July 12, 1974 (88 Stat. 299).
14. Rule X clause I(e)1, House Rules and Manual (1975).
15. H. Res. 5, 121 Cong. Rec. 20-22, 94th Cong. 1st Sess., Jan. 14, 


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Budget Timetable

    Title III of the Act (16) establishes a timetable for 
various phases of the congressional budget process, prescribing the 
actions to take place at each stage under the new procedure:
16. 31 USC Sec. Sec. 1321 et seq.

                                                        Action to be
                   On or before                           completed

November 10.......................................  President submits
                                                     current services
15th day after Congress meets.....................  President submits
                                                     his budget.
March 15..........................................  Committees and joint
                                                     committees submit
                                                     reports to Budget
April 1...........................................  Congressional Budget
                                                     Office submits
                                                     report to Budget
April 15..........................................  Budget Committees
                                                     report first
                                                     resolution on the
                                                     budget to their
May 15............................................  Committees report
                                                     bills and
                                                     authorizing new
                                                     budget authority.
May 15............................................  Congress completes
                                                     action on first
                                                     resolution on the
7th day after Labor Day...........................  Congress completes
                                                     action on bills and
                                                     providing new
                                                     budget authority
                                                     and new spending
September 15......................................  Congress completes
                                                     action on second
                                                     required concurrent
                                                     resolution on the
September 25......................................  Congress completes
                                                     action on
                                                     reconciliation bill
                                                     or resolution, or
                                                     both, implementing
                                                     second required
October 1.........................................  Fiscal year begins.

November 10: Current Services Budget

    The first element in the timetable is the President's submission by 
Nov. 10 of the current services budget which estimates the outlays 
needed to carry on existing programs and activities for the following 
fiscal year. Its purpose is to provide Congress with detailed 
information with which to begin analysis and preparation of the budget 
for the forthcoming year. Budget projections are then made by the 
Congressional Budget Office and the House and Senate Budget Committees 
based on the current fiscal year's levels. To facilitate evaluation of 
the President's projections, the Joint Economic Committee is required 
by the terms of the Act (17) to report to the budget 
committees on the estimates and economic assump

[[Page 1892]]

tions on the current services budget.
17. 15 USC Sec. 1024.

15th Day After Convening: President Submits Budget

    The President's budget is due to be submitted 15 days after 
Congress convenes.(18) This date remains unchanged from 
previous practice. Shortly after its submission, the budget committees 
of both Houses begin hearings on the President's budget, the economic 
assumptions on which it is based, the national budget priorities, and 
the budget in general. Testimony is taken from Members of Congress, 
administration officials, representatives of national interest groups, 
and the general public, such as the committee deem fit.(19)
18. 31 USC Sec. 1321.
19. 31 USC Sec. 1322(d).

March 15: Committee Reports Submitted to Budget Committees

    A new aspect of the budget process is the requirement that each of 
the standing committees of the House and Senate submits its 
recommendations on the proposed budget as viewed by the particular 
committee. These views are given to the budget committees of the House 
or Senate and are due on Mar. 15, one month prior to the reporting date 
of the first concurrent resolution on the budget.(20)
20. 31 USC  1322(c).

    The purpose of these reports is to provide the budget committees 
with an early and comprehensive indication of spending plans for the 
coming fiscal year. The reports contain the views and estimates of the 
committees and joint committees on budgetary matters within their 
jurisdiction, and their estimates of new budget outlays to be 
authorized by legislation within their jurisdiction during the 
following fiscal year.

April 1: Congressional Budget Office Submits Report to Budget 

    The Congressional Budget Office is required to submit its report to 
the budget committees on or before Apr. 1.(21) This report 
is primarily concerned with alternative budget levels and national 
budget priorities. It is the first of several required of the 
Congressional Budget Office. It is most significant, however, in that 
it is timed for use in the budget committees' deliberations on the 
first concurrent resolution on the budget, particularly with respect to 
committee discussions of national budget priorities.
21. 31 USC Sec. 1321.


[[Page 1893]]

April 15: First Concurrent Resolution Reported

    The budget committees must report the first concurrent resolution 
on the budget to Congress by Apr. 15.(1) This allows each 
House a maximum of one month for floor consideration, conferences, and 
the adoption of conference reports.(2)
 1. 31 USC Sec. 1321.
 2. 31 USC Sec. 1322(d).

    The first concurrent resolution on the budget provides estimates 
and preliminary budget targets for fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1. It 
must set forth: (1) the appropriate level of total budget outlays and 
of total new budget authority; (2) an estimate of budget outlays and an 
appropriate level of new budget authority in various categories; (3) 
the amount, if any, of appropriate budget surplus or deficit; and (4) 
the recommended level of federal revenues and the amount, if any, by 
which the aggregate level of federal revenues should be increased or 
decreased by bills and resolutions to be reported by the appropriate 
 3. 31 USC Sec. 1322.

    The report of the budget committee on the resolution compares its 
revenue estimates and outlay levels with the estimates and amounts in 
the President's budget. It also identifies recommended sources of 
revenues, makes five-year budget projections, and spells out the 
economic assumptions and objectives of the resolution.(4)
 4. 31 USC Sec. 1322(d).

    The Act provides special procedures for House consideration of 
budget resolutions and conference reports on such resolutions. The Act 
also provides for important material to be included in the joint 
statement of managers accompanying the conference report. The joint 
statement must distribute the allocations of total budget authority and 
outlays contained in the resolution among the appropriate committees. 
For example, if the conference report allocates $7 billion in budget 
authority and $6 billion in outlays for the functional category 
``Community and Regional Development,'' the statement of managers must 
divide those amounts among the various committees with jurisdiction 
over programs and authorities covered by that functional category. Each 
committee to which an allocation is made must, in turn, further 
subdivide its allocation among its subcommittees or programs.

May 15: Reporting New Budget Authority; Completion of Action on First 
    Concurrent Resolution

    May 15 is the deadline for committees to report legislation au

[[Page 1894]]

thorizing new budget authority.(5) It is also the deadline 
for the adoption of the first budget resolution by 
 5. 31 USC Sec. 1352.
 6. 31 USC Sec. 1322.

    Consideration of bills or resolutions authorizing new budget 
authority reported after May 15 is permitted in the House only if an 
emergency waiver reported by the Committee on Rules is 
 7. 31 USC Sec. 1352.

    The Budget Act sets forth special procedures by which the House is 
to consider budget resolutions and conference reports relating thereto. 
Such resolutions are initially considered in the Committee of the 
Whole. General debate is limited to 10 hours, and motions to further 
limit debate are not debatable. Under the original statute, the 
resolution was read for amendment under the five-minute rule by 
 8. 31 USC Sec. 1326.

    After the Committee of the Whole has reported the resolution to the 
House, the previous question is considered as ordered on the resolution 
and amendments thereto to final passage without intervening motion. The 
only amendment in order under the Act prior to final passage is one 
effecting changes necessary to achieve mathematical 
 9. Id.

    Debate on the conference report on the resolution is limited to 
five hours.(10)
10. Id.

Seventh Day After Labor Day; Action on Measures Providing New Budget or 
    Spending Authority

    The seventh day after Labor Day is the recommended deadline for 
completing action on regular budget authority and entitlement 
bills.(11) The only exception to this requirement is for 
appropriation bills whose consideration has been delayed because 
necessary authorizing legislation has not been timely 
11. 31 USC Sec. 1330.
12. Id.

    The Congressional Budget Office issues periodic reports on the 
status of measures providing new budget authority and revenue and debt 
13. 31 USC Sec. 1329.

September 15, 25; Action on Second Concurrent Resolution

    Sept. 15 and 25 are the dates for the adoption of the second 
resolution and completion of the reconciliation process, the final 
legislative phase of the new budget process under the 
14. 31 USC Sec. 1331.


[[Page 1895]]

    The completion of reconciliation actions on Sept. 25 brings the 
budget timetable to within five days of the new fiscal year--Oct. 1.
    The importance of the timely completion of this phase of the budget 
process is underlined by the provision of the Act which states that 
Congress may not adjourn sine die unless such action is 
15. Id.

    The second resolution reflects changed economic circumstances, 
taking into consideration the spending authority exercised by Congress 
and the matters contained in the first resolution, namely the 
``target'' levels of budget authority and outlays, total revenues, and 
the public-debt limit. In addition, the committees with jurisdiction 
over the recommended changes are directed to determine and recommend 
such changes to the House.(16)
16. Id.

    After adoption of the second resolution and completion of the 
reconciliation process, it is not in order in either House to consider 
any new spending legislation that would cause the aggregate levels of 
total budget authority or outlays adopted in that resolution to be 
exceeded, nor to consider a measure that would reduce total revenues 
below the levels in the resolution.(17)
17. 31 USC Sec. 1332.

    It should be pointed out, however, that Congress may adopt a 
revision of its most recent resolution at any time during the fiscal 
year. In addition to the May and September resolutions, Congress may 
adopt at least one additional resolution each year, either in 
conjunction with a supplemental appropriations bill or in the event of 
sharp revisions in revenue or spending estimates brought on by major 
changes in the economy.(18)
18. 11. Rept. No. 93-658, 93d Cong. 1st Sess. (1973).

Program Review and Evaluation

    The budget committees of the House and Senate are directed to study 
budget proposals, including program analysis and evaluation and time 
limits on program authorizations.(19) These committees also 
make continuing studies of ``off budget'' agencies and periodically 
report their findings and recommendations. An ``off budget'' agency is 
an agency of the federal government which is exempt from the 
President's budget under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, section 
19. 31 USC Sec. 1303.
20. 31 USC  11b.


[[Page 1896]]

Impoundment Controls

    Impoundment control is a companion feature of the new budget 
control system. In the words of the House Committee on Rules' report on 
the budget reform legislation:

        One without the other would leave the Congress in a weak and 
    ineffective position. No matter how prudently Congress discharges 
    its appropriations responsibility, legislative decisions have no 
    meaning if they can be unilaterally abrogated by executive 
    impoundments. On the other hand, if Congress appropriates funds 
    without full awareness of the country's fiscal condition, its 
    actions may be used by the President to justify [his] withholding 
    of funds. By joining budget and impoundment control in a complete 
    overhaul of the budget process [the bill], seeks to assure that the 
    power of appropriation assigned to the Congress is responsibly and 
    effectively exercised.(21)
21. H. Rept. No. 93-658, 93d Cong. 1st Sess. (1973).

    Impoundment is a term used to describe situations wherein the 
executive branch declines to enter into obligations or commitments for 
the full amount of funds appropriated therefor by 
 1. Levinson and Mills, Budget Reform and Impoundment Control, 27 Vand. 
        L. Rev. 615 (1974).

    The statute recognizes two types of impoundment actions by the 
executive branch: rescissions and deferrals.(2)
 2. 31 USC Sec. Sec. 1400 et seq.

    Rescissions must be proposed by the President whenever he 
determines that (1) all or part of any budget authority will not be 
needed to carry out the full objectives of a particular program; (2) 
budget authority should be rescinded for fiscal reasons; or (3) all or 
part of budget authority provided for only one fiscal year is to be 
reserved from obligation for that year. In such cases, the President is 
to submit a special message to the Congress requesting rescission of 
the budget authority, explaining fully the circumstances and reasons 
for the proposed action. Unless both Houses of the Congress complete 
action on a rescission bill within 45 days of the President's 
submission, the budget authority must be made available for 
 3. 31 USC Sec. 1402.

    Deferrals must be proposed by the President whenever any executive 
action or inaction effectively precludes the obligation or expenditure 
of budget authority. In such cases, the President is to submit a 
special message to the Congress recommending the deferral of that 
budget authority. The President is required to make such budget 
authority available for obligation if either House passes an 
``impoundment resolution'' disapproving the proposed

[[Page 1897]]

deferral at any time after receipt of the special 
 4. 31 USC Sec. 1403.

    Rescission and deferral messages are also to be transmitted to the 
Comptroller General who must review each message and advise the 
Congress of the facts surrounding the action and its probable effects. 
In the case of deferrals, he must state whether the deferral is, in his 
view, in accordance with existing statutory authority.'' 
 5. 31 USC Sec. 1404.

    If budget authority is not made available for obligation by the 
President as required by the impoundment control provisions, the 
Comptroller General is authorized to bring a civil action to bring 
about compliance. However, such action may not be brought until 25 days 
after the Comptroller General files an explanatory statement with the 
House and Senate.~(6)
 6. 31 USC Sec. 1406.

``Backdoor'' Spending

    Under the Act new procedures were established for the enactment of 
contract and borrowing authority in order to promote a more 
comprehensive and consistent control over spending actions. The Act 
states that effective January 1976, new contract authority and 
borrowing authority legislation, to be in order for consideration in 
either House, must contain a provision that such new authority is to be 
effective only to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in 
appropriations acts. In this manner, the Act prohibits the 
consideration of bills obligating certain types of new government 
spending in advance of the appropriations process. The Speaker has 
ruled, however, that such prohibition may be waived by a resolution 
reported as privileged from the Committee on Rules. The Speaker's 
ruling, on Mar. 20, 1975,~(7). was based on the fact that 
the provisions of the Act in question were intended to state a rule of 
proceeding, and could therefore be waived or changed by the House at 
any time pursuant to its constitutional authority to ``determine the 
Rules of its Proceedings.~(8) 
 7. 121 Cong. Rec. 7677, 94th Cong. 1st Sess., Mar. 20, 1975 (ruling by 
        Speaker Carl Albert [Okla.]).
 8. U.S. Const. art. I, section 5.

    The provisions of the Act described above do not apply to contract 
or borrowing authority in effect prior to January 1976, unless 
specifically implemented earlier, pursuant to section 906 of the 
 9. See 31 USC Sec. 1351.


[[Page 1898]]

Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946

Sec. 21.1 The House and Senate agreed to a provision of the Legislative 
    Reorganization Act of 1946 which authorized certain House and 
    Senate committees to meet jointly, report out a legislative budget, 
    and submit a concurrent resolution adopting the budget. This 
    provision was repealed by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 

    On July 25, 1946, the House by voice vote agreed to 
~(10) and on July 26, 1946, the Senate by voice vote 
concurred in,~(11) a House substitute to S. 2177, the 
Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. Section 138 of the substitute 
directed certain Senate and House committees to meet jointly, report 
out a legislative budget, and submit a concurrent resolution adopting 
the budget. The text of the provision follows:~(12)
10. 92 Cong. Rec. 10047, 10051-53, 10075, 10077-80, 10104, 79th Cong. 
        2d Sess.
11. Id. at p. 10152. See also 92 Cong. Rec. 6442 (text of section 130, 
        the budget provision of the Senate bill), and 6577, 6578 
        (vote), 79th Cong. 2d Sess., June 7, and June 10, 1946, 
12. This excerpt is taken from 60 Stat. 812, 832, 833 (Pub. L. No. 79-
        601). It was codified as 2 USC Sec. 190e.

        Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
    United States of America in Congress assembled,

                                Short Title

        That (a) this Act, divided into titles and sections according 
    to the following table of contents, may be cited as the 
    ``Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946'': . . .

                             Legislative Budget

        Sec. 138. (a) The Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee 
    on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, and the 
    Committee on Finance and the Committee on Appropriations of the 
    Senate, or duly authorized subcommittees thereof, are authorized 
    and directed to meet jointly at the beginning of each regular 
    session of Congress and after study and consultation, giving due 
    consideration to the budget recommendations of the President, 
    report to their respective Houses a legislative budget for the 
    ensuing fiscal year, including the estimated over-all Federal 
    receipts and expenditures for such year. Such report shall contain 
    a recommendation for the maximum amount to be appropriated for 
    expenditure in such year which shall include such an amount to be 
    reserved for deficiencies as may be deemed necessary by such 
    committees. If the estimated receipts exceed the estimated 
    expenditures, such report shall contain a recommendation for a 
    reduction in the public debt. Such report shall be made by February 
        (b) The report shall be accompanied by a concurrent resolution 
    adopting such budget, and fixing the maximum

[[Page 1899]]

    amount to be appropriated for expenditure in such year. If the 
    estimated expenditures exceed the estimated receipts, the 
    concurrent resolution shall include a section substantially as 
    follows: ``That it is the sense of the Congress that the public 
    debt shall be increased in an amount equal to the amount by which 
    the estimated expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year exceed the 
    estimated receipts, such amount being $    .''

    Section 138 was repealed by approval of the Legislative 
Reorganization Act of 1970.~(13)
13. 84 Stat. 1140, 1172 [see 2 USC Sec. 242 (b) (1970)].

Concurrent Resolution

Sec. 21.2 Pursuant to the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, the 
    Senate and House agreed to a concurrent resolution expressing the 
    judgment of Congress regarding levels of revenues and expenditures 
    for the fiscal year 1949.

    On Feb. 18, 1948, the Senate by voice vote,~(14) and on 
Feb. 27, 1948, the House by a vote of 315 yeas, 36 nays, 79 not 
voting,~(15) agreed to Senate Concurrent Resolution 42, 
expressing the sense of Congress as to the amount of revenues and 
expenditures for fiscal year 1949.
14. 94 Cong. Rec. 1398, 1399, 1408, 80th Cong. 2d Sess.
15. Id. at pp. 1875, 1885-87. The House agreed to this concurrent 
        resolution after rejecting by a vote of 73 yeas, 276 nays, not 
        voting 81, a motion to recommit it to the Joint Committee on 
        the Legislative Budget with instructions to strike out 
        expenditures of $37.2 billion and insert in lieu thereof $36.7 

        Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives 
    concurring), That it is the judgment of the Congress, based upon 
    presently available information, that revenues during the period of 
    the fiscal year 1949 will approximate $47,300,000,000 and that 
    expenditures during such fiscal year should not exceed 
    $37,200,000,000, of which latter amount not more than 
    $26,600,000,000 would be in consequence of appropriations hereafter 
    made available for obligation in such fiscal year.

    Senate Concurrent Resolution 42 was considered under a special 
order of the Committee on Rules (H. Res. 485), which provided for 
consideration in the Committee of the Whole and waiver of all points of 
order. After general debate, which was confined to the concurrent 
resolution and limited to two hours, the concurrent resolution was 
considered as having been read for amendment.

[[Page 1900]]