History and Jurisdiction

(In part excerpted from "A Brief History of the Committee on the Budget from the Office of History and Preservation," Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives)

Responsibility

The Committee’s chief responsibility is to draft an annual concurrent resolution on the budget that provides a Congressional framework for spending and revenue levels, the federal surplus or deficit, and public debt.  The budget resolution can contain reconciliation instructions directing authorizing committees to change laws in their jurisdiction to change revenues or mandatory spending levels.  The resolution also can include mechanisms that aid in enforcing budget procedures in general or for particular purposes.  In drafting the budget resolution, the Committee examines the President’s annual budget request, as well as economic and fiscal projections from the Congressional Budget Office.  The Committee also has jurisdiction over budget process laws and tracks the budgetary effects of legislative action. 

History

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 created the Budget Committee to allow Congress to develop an independent means to analyze the Presidential budget, reconcile it with congressional plans, and develop a fiscal policy of its own.  The Act established budget committees in both houses of Congress, as well as a Congressional Budget Office to provide Congress with independent, nonpartisan analyses.

Although the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 outlined the purpose and jurisdiction of the committee, four subsequent acts further shaped the Committee’s work.  The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 and the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Reaffirmation Act of 1987 (also known as the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Acts of 1985 and 1987) required a gradual reduction of the federal deficit by setting target deficits within six years.  If the projected deficit exceeded the target, the act provided for automatic cuts (or “sequestration”) in the federal budget to meet the target.  The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, a compromise measure between congressional leaders and President George H. W. Bush, nullified the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings legislation.  It instead placed yearly caps on all discretionary spending, required that any net reduction in revenues must be accompanied by an equal reduction in entitlement spending, and provided pay-as-you-go provisions for any new spending or revenue.

The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 later established a new budget enforcement mechanism to control and respond to the on-budget deficit effects of direct spending and revenue legislation enacted into law.  The law requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to track the budgetary effects of direct spending or revenue legislation on scorecards covering five- and ten-year periods.  If the annual OMB report shows a debit on the scorecard for the budget year, OMB is required to issue a sequestration order to offset the overage.  Finally, the Budget Control Act of 2011 implemented further budget process changes.  It included a mechanism allowing for an increase in the debt limit and required deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion over nine years, which is being implemented solely through spending cuts; non-exempt direct spending is cut automatically by sequestration each year, and the Act’s initial discretionary spending caps were lowered to cut discretionary spending. 

Membership

House rules require that the Budget Committee be comprised of five members from the Ways and Means Committee, five members from the Appropriations Committee, and one member from the Rules Committee.  In addition, the Budget Committee must have one leadership designee from the Democratic and Republican caucuses.  The Democratic Caucus limits Democrats, other than the member designated by leadership, from serving more than three out of five successive congresses. The Republican Conference does not have a term limit rule for its members serving on the Budget Committee.  The number of members on the Budget Committee fluctuates each Congress and currently stands at 36 members.  Further, the ratio of Democrats and Republicans is determined at the beginning of every Congress and is based on party strength.  The House elects a new Chair at the beginning of each Congress.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Budget Committee is derived from the 1974 Budget Act as well as House Rule X.  The relevant sections are included below. 

RULE X:  ORGANIZATION OF COMMITTEES

Committees and their legislative jurisdictions

  1. There shall be in the House the following standing committees, each of which shall have the jurisdiction and related functions assigned by this clause and clauses 2, 3, and 4. All bills, resolutions, and other matters relating to subjects within the jurisdiction of the standing committees listed in this clause shall be referred to those committees, in accordance with clause 2 of rule XII, as follows: 

...

(d) Committee on the Budget.

  1. Concurrent resolutions on the budget (as defined in section 3(4) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974), other matters required to be referred to the committee under titles III and IV of that Act, and other measures setting forth appropriate levels of budget totals for the United States Government.
  2. Budget process generally.
  3. Establishment, extension, and enforcement of special controls over the Federal budget, including the budgetary treatment of off-budget Federal agencies and measures providing exemption from reduction under any order issued under part C of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

Special oversight functions

  1. (c) The Committee on the Budget shall study on a continuing basis the effect on budget outlays of relevant existing and proposed legislation and report the results of such studies to the House on a recurring basis.

Additional functions of committees

  1. (b) The Committee on the Budget shall—
  2. review on a continuing basis the conduct by the Congressional Budget Office of its functions and duties;
  3. hold hearings and receive testimony from Members, Senators, Delegates, the Resident Commissioner, and such appropriate representatives of Federal departments and agencies, the general public, and national organizations as it considers desirable in developing concurrent resolutions on the budget for each fiscal year;
  4. make all reports required of it by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974;
  5. study on a continuing basis those provisions of law that exempt Federal agencies or any of their activities or outlays from inclusion in the Budget of the United States Government, and report to the House from time to time its recommendations for terminating or modifying such provisions;
  6. study on a continuing basis proposals designed to improve and facilitate the congressional budget process, and report to the House from time to time the results of such studies, together with its recommendations; and
  7. request and evaluate continuing studies of tax expenditures, devise methods of coordinating tax expenditures, policies, and programs with direct budget outlays, and report the results of such studies to the House on a recurring basis.

Budget Act responsibilities

(f)(1) Each standing committee shall submit to the Committee on the Budget not later than six weeks after the submission of the budget by the President, or at such time as the Committee on the Budget may request—

(A) its views and estimates with respect to all matters to be set forth in the concurrent resolution on the budget for the ensuing fiscal year that are within its jurisdiction or functions; and

(B) an estimate of the total amounts of new budget authority, and budget outlays resulting there from, to be provided or authorized in all bills and resolutions within its jurisdiction that it intends to be effective during that fiscal year. 

(2) The views and estimates submitted by the Committee on Ways and Means   under subparagraph (1) shall include a specific recommendation, made after holding public hearings, as to the appropriate level of the public debt that should be set forth in the concurrent resolution on the budget.