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THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET PROCESS:
A GENERAL EXPLANATION (Including Changes Made by the Balanced Budget
and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-177))
Printed for the useof the Committee on the Budget
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1986
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET
WILLIAM H. GRAY III, Pennsylvania, Chairman JIM WRIGHT, Texas
DELBERT L. LATTA, Ohio W.G. (BILL) HEFNER, North Carolina JACK F. KEMP, New York THOMAS J. DOWNEY, New York
LYNN MARTIN, Illinois MIKE LOWRY, Washington
BOBBI FIEDLER, California BUTLER DERRICK, South Carolina
WILLIS D. GRADISON, JR., Ohio GEORGE MILLER, California
TOM LOEFFLER, Texas PAT WILLIAMS, Montana
CONNIE MACK, Florida HOWARD WOLPE, Michigan
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania MARTIN FROST, Texas
W. HENSON MOORE, Louisiana VIC FAZIO, California
DENNY SMITH, Oregon MARTY RUSSO, Illinois
VIN WEBER, Minnesota ED JENKINS, Georgia
HANK BROWN, Colorado
BEAU BOULTER, Texas
STEVEN L. PRUITT, Executive Director
of 1985 (Public Law 99-177)...
“D”-Functional Classification Codes and Program Categories..
“E”—First Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 1986 (Confer-
"F”—Terms Used in the Federal Budget Process
"G”—House Rules Relating to the Budget Act..
“H”-House Precedents Interpreting the Congressional Budget Act.
“I”—Changes in the Budget Act made by Public Law 99-177..
THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET AND IMPOUNDMENT
WHY A BUDGET PROCESS? Of all of the legislative matters before the Members of the House and the Senate, none is more political or more crucial than the choices embodied in the Federal budget. The budget touches virtually every significant political issue which must be considered by the Congress in any given year: What are the Nation's real needs and priorities for Federal spending, and which programs are effective in meeting them? Which programs are ineffective and should be eliminated? Does the economy need a tax cut or tax increase and, if so, how should it be designed and what size should it be? Should indexing of Federal programs be modified or eliminated? How can fraud, waste, and abuse in both military and domestic spending be identified and controlled? Do we need an overall spending limit that is vigorously enforced? Would a constitutional amendment to require balanced budgets work? Economists may offer advice on the anticipated consequences of these and other choices, but the decisions are made by elected representatives. The budget process is Congress' mechanism to organize, present, and resolve choices such as these.
In July 1974, when the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act (Public Law 93–344) was adopted, the Congress declared that it was essential:
(1) to assure effective congressional control over the budgetary process;
(2) to provide for the congressional determination each year of the appropriate level of Federal revenues and expenditures;
(3) to provide a system of impoundment control;
(5) to provide for the furnishing of information by the executive branch in a manner that would assist the Congress in dis
charging its duties. To implement the Act, the Congress established new institutional bodies and procedures. It created the Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, as well as a budget timetable, and parliamentary controls.
Since its institution over a decade ago, the budget process has been scrutinized by a number of organizations, none more probing than the Congress itself. During that time, hearings, meetings, panels, and papers have questioned various aspects of the process, but the fundamental purpose has remained unchanged. The process provides order, guidance, and information to the Congress on major economic and fiscal policy issues to enable Members of Congress to make informed choices.