An important step in the annual budgeting and spending process occurred on Friday, when congressional budget resolutions were introduced in both the House and Senate.
After the president produces his budget, the next stage in the process is for Congress to produce its own budget, taking President Obama’s proposal into consideration.
The House and Senate each consider a proposal, then they come together on a final version. The congressional budget resolution will then determine how much money the appropriations subcommittees have to spend in the areas the oversee.
There has been some attention paid to wrangling among budget leaders. With both houses controlled by Republicans, budgeting leaders are supposed to get along, and when they don’t, that’s news. (Would it be any surprise that the result was more spending?)
But the key difference between the proposals we care about is that the House actually published their bill, and the Senate did not.
If you go to the bill pages for House Concurrent Resolution 27 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, you’ll find a key difference when you click “Read the Bill” in the “Learn More” box. The House link takes you to the text of the House’s proposal. The Senate link takes you to the inscription: “The text of S.CON.RES.11 has not yet been received from GPO.”
The bill may have been introduced, but we can’t see it yet, so does that really count? It may have been introduced according to Senate rules, but has it been introduced to the public?
(The “not yet received” notice will disappear when the bill text is processed and made available to us.)
Adding insult to injury, if you go looking for the text of the bill online, the most prominent document made available by the Senate Budget Committee—at a link that literally says “CLICK HERE FOR THE BALANCED BUDGET RESOLUTION”—is a promotional piece that could best be described as ‘spintastic.’
The Senate document claims that their plan “Balances the Budget in 10 Years.” It “Ensures Flexibility for Funding National Defense.” It “Provides Repeal and Replacement of Obamacare. [sic]” And more. But do you know what the document doesn’t tell you? WHAT THE SENATE BUDGET RESOLUTION SAYS.
In fact, if you scroll down to the draft budget resolution that is included in the document, it literally has this line in the section on outlays/spending: “Fiscal year 2016: $_______,000,000.”
Now, we’re being a little unfair here because there is a chart tucked in the document that says that total outlays will be $3.8 trillion. But that’s a chart summarizing what the resolution may say. It’s not the Senate budget resolution. We’ll know what it says when we see what it says.
The House budget resolution, on the other hand, is available. You can look at it (again, click on “Read the Bill”) and see what the House proposes for federal spending in fiscal 2016.
The House proposes $3,009,033,000,000 in spending. It’s a much lower number than the Senate is apparently going to propose, and it’s not rounded like the one from the Senate chart. It amounts to a little over $28,000 in spending per U.S. family. The Senate will propose about $35,750 per family, something like the president’s $37,000 proposal. (Haha. We get to round our numbers on our blog posts. The Senate Budget Committee doesn’t in what it calls its budget resolution!)
That’s a lot of money, and one can have their opinions on whether it’s the right amount. One can have opinions on whether it will be well spent, such as for that reported increase in military spending.
But one thing is clear: The House has introduced a budget resolution to the public. The Senate has introduced a budget resolution to itself and a select group of insiders. The House has a budget resolution. The Senate has a transparency failure.
Here are the current votes on the two budget resolutions. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki articles on the bills.