Federal Budget Still Up in the Air

Federal Budget and AppropriationsThe House is at a stalemate in advancing its proposed budget resolution that was approved by the Budget Committee last month on a party line vote. The budget resolution faces opposition on both sides of the aisle, with no apparent compromise in sight. House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) has stated that he has until September 30, the last day of the fiscal year, to get a budget through the House. The statutory deadline for the House to pass a budget resolution is April 15, but there is no penalty for failing to meet it.

Given the continuing dysfunctional budget process, lawmakers are discussing how Congress can reform the way it provides funding for federal programs. The discussion has included how to eliminate duplicative and overlapping programs within the budgeting process to more effectively use federal dollars.

During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on April 13, Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) singled out federal housing programs as being inefficient and duplicative.  Citing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that states “millions of Americans have benefited (from federal housing programs), whether by taking out a federally guaranteed mortgage, deducting mortgage interest or real estate taxes on federal tax returns, or receiving a rental subsidy. In fiscal year 2010, the federal government incurred about $170 billion in obligations for housing-related programs and estimated revenue forgone through tax expenditures,” Senator Enzi said “GAO found many of these 160 programs overlap and that money could be saved by consolidating and streamlining them. Agencies could be doing more with less, helping more people to purchase their first home or find their family a better place to live. But acting inefficiently and spreading its resources across so many programs, each of which of course needs managers and assistants and secretaries and so on, the government is not maximizing the good it intends to do.”

The GAO report can be found here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593752.pdf