On April 18, the Senate Committee on the Budget began work on an FY13 budget concurrent resolution. In March the Budget Committee deemed a top-line spending figure for FY13 in place of a traditional budget resolution (see Memo, 3/30). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated in March and again this month that the Senate would not pass a traditional budget resolution for FY13 because the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) enacted discretionary spending caps for FY13.
After Majority Leader Reid’s statement, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) proceeded with a deeming resolution reflecting the FY13 spending cap enacted in the BCA. The Senate Committee on Appropriations then divide the Senate Budget Committee’s top-line spending figure among its 12 appropriations subcommittees. The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations are allowed to proceed with their work after Congress passes a budget resolution, or after April 15 if Congress has yet to pass a resolution. It is unusual for the Budget Committee to mark up a resolution after the Appropriations Committee has proceeded with its work, as the Appropriations Committee did on April 18.
The Senate budget resolution lays out a long term deficit reduction plan through FY22 that Senator Conrad says is in line with the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan. The resolution would achieve “$5.4 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years including last year’s reduction,” said the Senator. The plan would require cutting spending, raising revenue, and changing entitlement spending in order to achieve this reduction. At the April 18 mark up, Senator Conrad did not call for votes or amendments to his mark; instead, he allowed several hours of statements from members. The majority of member statements focused on debating whether the Committee should discuss a resolution given the funding levels deemed in the BCA, with Republicans criticizing Democrats for not advancing a traditional budget resolution. In coming weeks, Senate Republicans are expected to attempt to advance several alternative budget measures that were filed in the Senate in March (see Memo, 4/13).
During the week of April 16, House committees proceeded with carrying out budget reconciliation as required by the House budget resolution passed in March, H.Con.Res.112 (see Memo, 3/30). The budget resolution requires that the House identify more than $260 billion in savings over 10 years to meet its budget goals. On April 18, the Administration issued a statement saying that the President will not sign FY13 appropriations bills if House Republicans cut discretionary spending to $1.028 trillion, the level passed in the House budget resolution.
House Committees, including those on Financial Services and Agriculture, held hearings on measures to reduce spending. The Financial Services Committee voted to eliminate the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP). The Agriculture Committee approved a bill that would deeply cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), resulting in a significant loss of monthly benefits for families, as well as reduce benefits for nearly five million additional households that receive already inadequate LIHEAP benefits. Additional Committees will continue to identify spending cuts the week of April 23. The Committees forwarded these recommended spending cuts to the Budget Committee, which is expected to assemble these bills into a single bill in April or May.
The House Budget Committee will continue its FY13 work with a hearing on replacing the sequester required by the BCA on April 25 at 10 am ET. Daniel Werfel of the Office of Management and Budget and Susan Poling of the General Accountability Office will testify. The hearing will be held in room 210 of the Cannon House office building.