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Congressional Research Service Summarizes the House FY 15 Budget Proposal

On April 10th, the House approved House Concurrent Resolution (H Con Res) 96 that sets forth the Congressional budget for the federal government for FY 2015, including the appropriate budgetary levels for FY 2016-FY 2024.  The non-binding resolution lists recommended budgetary levels and amounts for new budget authority and outlays. Separately, the resolution authorizes a certain reserve fund to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health care-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (2010 health care laws).  Among the provisions, the measure authorizes certain deficit-neutral reserve funds:

  • to reform the 2010 health care laws,
  • to repeal all or part of the decreases in Medicare spending included in them,
  • for the sustainable growth rate of the Medicare program,
  • to reform the tax code,
  • to implement a trade agreement,
  • for revenue measures that would not increase the deficit for FY2015-FY2024,
  • for rural counties and schools,
  • for transportation by maintaining the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, and
  • to reform policies and programs to reduce poverty and increase opportunity and upward mobility.

The proposed budget resolution also contains several significant caveats, including:

  • Makes it out of order in the House to consider legislation reported out of committee (other than the Committee on Appropriations) if it has the net effect of increasing direct spending in excess of $5 billion for any of the four consecutive 10-fiscal-year periods beginning with FY2025.
  • Requires the report or the joint explanatory statement accompanying the conference report on this budget resolution to include in its allocation to the House Committee on Appropriations amounts for the discretionary administrative expenses of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and of the Postal Service.
  • Authorizes the chair to adjust allocations and aggregates for legislation reported by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that reforms the federal retirement system, but does not cause a net increase in the deficit for FY2015-FY2024.
  • Counts legislation that transfers funds from the general fund of the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund as new budget authority and outlays equal to the amount of the transfer in the fiscal year in which the transfer occurs.

The goal is to balance the budget by 2024.  The Resolution proposes to accomplish this almost solely through reductions in spending.  Not surprisingly, House Democrats did not support this proposal.  As well, Senate Budget Committee Chair, Patty Murray (D-WA) is not even writing a budget plan for FY 15 and has no plans to take up the measure as passed by the House.