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(COMMITTEE PRINT]

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))

CIS RECORD ONLY:

COMMITTEE ON THE BUDGET
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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LIBRARY

TRY OF GOV

Printed for the useof the Committee on the Budget

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON : 1986

60-607 O

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
MICHAEL D. BARNES, Maryland

BEAU BOULTER, Texas
MARVIN LEATH, Texas
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
BARBARA BOXER, California
BUDDY MACKAY, Florida
CHESTER G. ATKINS, Massachusetts

STEVEN L. PRUITT, Executive Director
MARTHA H. PHILLIPS, Minority Staff Director

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CONTENTS

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THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET AND IMPOUNDMENT
CONTROL ACT OF 1974: A GENERAL EXPLANATION

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;
(4) to establish national budget priorities; and

(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.

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