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JSC Markup Amendment Tracker

Nov 30, 2018 | Budget Process

November 30 Note: The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform was unable to advance its legislation out of committee on a vote of 7 in favor, 5 opposed, and 4 present. The legislation needed 10 votes in favor, 5 from each party, to advance. The final session of the markup was held on Thursday, November 29th at 9am. Co-Chair Womack and Budget Committee Ranking Member Yarmuth subsequently introduced the JSC's final product in the House as a seperate bill.

The Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform (JSC) is marking up its proposed reform legislation on November 15, well in advance of its reporting deadline of November 30. Many amendments are expected to be introduced. As we receive further information on amendments, this blog will be updated. To be adopted, amendments need a majority of each party's membership.

Watch the first session of the markup here

Watch the second session of the markup here.

Watch the third session and voting of the markup here.

We support bipartisan work to fix our broken budget process and have proposed numerous recommendations to the JSC as well as a memo discussing over a dozen items we thought might be included in their recommendations. The co-chairs' mark includes only a few incremental improvements to our budget process, including: moving to a biennial budget resolution, eliminating term limits for the House Budget Committee, and requiring the Administration to provide some budget data to Congress and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) sooner than it does currently. 

Encouragingly, Members are proposing numerous amendments based on or in line with our recommendations. Among them include:

  • Senator David Perdue (R-GA) Amendment on Fiscal Year and “No Budget, No Vacation”: This amendment sets enforceable milestones for both the adoption of the budget and the amount of appropriations the Senate can pass. If the milestone is not met, then the Senate must stay in session with rules to compel attendance. In addition, it aligns the start of the fiscal year (currently October 1) with the calendar year (January 1) starting in 2021. (Not adopted on a 8-7 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
  • Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) Amendment on the Conrad Rule: This amendment adds a point of order in the House and Senate against reconciliation bills that add to the deficit in the years covered by the reconciliation instruction. In the Senate, this point of order would need 60 votes to waive. (Not adopted on 8-8 vote)
  • Kilmer Amendment Establishing a Fiscal State of the Nation: The amendment creates an annual bicameral hearing for the Comptroller General of the United States to testify in front of the Senate and House Budget Committees with opportunities for any Member of Congress to take part. (Adopted on a 14-0 vote)
  • Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) Amendment Enforcing “No Budget, No Recess”: The amendment creates an enforcement procedure in the Senate for both the new May 1 deadline for a budget resolution and the October 1 start of the fiscal year for appropriations bills. If the deadlines are not met, the Senate must stay in session with rules to compel attendance. This amendment is similar to her No Budget, No Vacation Act. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
  • Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Kilmer, and Ernst Amendment on House Adjournment: The amendment adds August in addition to July as a month that the House may not adjourn for more than three calendar days if the House has not approved all appropriations bills. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Perdue Amendment Establishing a Bipartisan Budget Resolution in the Senate: This amendment creates a separate path in the Senate for a bipartisan budget resolution. The resolution would be required to establish fiscal goals for the path of the debt- to-GDP ratio as well as a glide path for health care spending, tax expenditures, discretionary spending, and total revenues. Passage of the budget would require majority support of each party in markup and three-fifths of Senators (currently 60), of which at least 15 must be from the minority. Reconciliation from the budget requires 15 minority Senators for passage. (Adopted on 14-0 vote)
  • Senator Lankford (R-OK) Amendment to Phase Out CHIMPs: This amendment creates points of order in the House and Senate on appropriations that contain budget gimmick Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs). The amendment adds a limitation of $15 billion of CHIMPs in 2020 that phases down to zero by 2028. More on CHIMPs here. (Not adopted on a 8-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes) 

We support each of these amendments and would encourage Members of the JSC to vote in favor of them.

Amendments have been adopted by the JSC:

  • Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Lankford Amendment Changing Membership on the Senate Budget Committee: This amendment changes the membership of the Senate Budget Committee to be six members of the majority, five members of the minority and the chair and ranking members of the Appropriations and Finance committees. (Adopted 13-1)
  • Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Whitehouse Amendment Clarifying Annual Reconciliation: This amendment clarifies that a reconciliation instruction may be given and a bill produced for each year of the biennial budget. (Adopted 16-0)
  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Perdue Amendment Establishing a Bipartisan Budget Resolution in the Senate: Description above (Adopted 14-0)
  • Kilmer Amendment Establishing a Fiscal State of the Nation: Description above. (Adopted on a 14-0)
  • Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) Amendment to Include Tax Expenditures as a Category Total in the Budget Resolution (as modified for day 2):  Currently, tax expenditures are listed in the report accompanying the budget resolution but not the legislative text. This amendment would add tax expenditures as a budget category in the resolution. (Adopted on a 14-0 vote) 

    Other amendments that were proposed but did not pass:

    • Representative Rob Woodall (R-GA) Amendment to Replace Category Breakdowns in the Budget with Debt-to-GDP Ratio: This amendment would end the use of listed categories of spending and revenue in the budget resolution and replace it with the debt-to-GDP ratio. (Not Adopted 7-7)
    • Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) Amendment to Include Tax Expenditures as a Category Total in the Budget Resolution (original day 1): Currently, tax expenditures are listed in the report accompanying the budget resolution but not the legislative text. This amendment would add tax expenditures as a budget category in the resolution. (Not Adopted 10-5, failed to reach 5 Republican votes)
    • Perdue Amendment to Increase the Votes Needed to Pass a Budget: The budget resolution is not filibusterable in the Senate, so it only needs a majority for passage. This amendment would set final passage at a 3/5ths threshold, aligning the budget with other legislation's vote threshold for cloture. (Not Adopted 3-12)
    • Perdue Amendment to Restrict Vote-A-Rama: This amendment would end the Vote-A-Rama at the finale of Senate consideration of the budget resolution by stopping additional votes on amendments after the 50-hour consideration limitation in law. (Not Adopted 7-8)
    • Kilmer Amendment on the Conrad Rule: Description above. (Not adopted 8-8)
    • Lankford Amendment to Mandate the Budget Contains Reconciliation Instructions: Reconciliation is a powerful tool to get around the Senate filibuster. This amendment makes it a required part of the budget rather an optional part. (Not Adopted 8-7, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Lankford Amendment Modifying Requirements for Valid Reconciliation Bills: Reconciliation only sets an overall target for changes to the deficit for a given committee. This amendment would stipulate that reconciliation bills must not use more than 20 percent of gross savings to cut taxes or increase spending. (Not adopted 6-9)
    • Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) Amendment to Establish a Permanent Bipartisan Deficit Reduction Committee: This amendment would create a permanent deficit reduction committee tasked with producing legislation to meet the debt-to-GDP targets set in the budget resolution. (Not adopted 8-8)
    • Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Amendment to Allow Treasury To Suspend the Debt Limit: This amendment would require the Treasury Department to suspend the debt limit for a year at a time. The Treasury would notify Congress 180 days before the debt limit was reached and Congress could vote with fast track procedures to disapprove of the increase. (Not adopted 7-6, failed to reach 5 Republican votes)
    • Lankford Amendment to Phase Out CHIMPs: Description above. (Not adopted on a 8-6, failed to reach 5 Democrats) 
    • Perdue Amendment on Fiscal Year and “No Budget, No Vacation”: Description above. (Not adopted on a 8-7 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Perdue Amendment on “No Budget, No Vacation”: Same as immediately prior amendment, but without changing the dates of the fiscal year. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Ernst Amendment Enforcing “No Budget, No Recess”: Description above. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Ernst Amendment Enforcing “No Budget, No Recess”: Same as immediately prior amendment, but only applying to appropriations bills. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Ernst Amendment Enforcing “No Budget, No Recess”: Similar as prior amendment, but only applying to the budget resolution. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Ernst Amendment Preventing Federal Funds For Senate Travel Without Budget or Appropriations: This amendment would prohibit federal funds for any Senate travel if the Senate does not pass a budget resolution by May 1 or appropriations by the end of the fiscal year. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Arrington, Kilmer, and Ernst Amendment on House Adjournment: Description above. (Not adopted on a 9-6 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Perdue Amendment to Conform the Fiscal Year with the Calendar Year: Currently the Fiscal Year runs from October 1 through September 30th. This amendment changes the fiscal year to the calendar year starting in 2021. (Not adopted on a 10-5 vote, failed to reach 5 Democratic votes)
    • Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) Amendment Ending the Discretionary Caps: This amendment ends the discretionary spending caps first established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that run through FY 2021. (Not adopted on a 8-7 vote, failed to reach 5 Republican votes)

    *****

    As CRFB president Maya MacGuineas said on the release of the co-chairs' mark

    Members of the JSC deserve recognition for their hard work over the past eight months. It is rare and refreshing when policymakers work together in a bipartisan and bicameral manner. Hopefully this spirt of collaboration continues.

    In that spirit, we encourage JSC Members to build on [the] mark by putting forward and supporting amendments to further improve the budget process and promote fiscal responsibility. And work must continue beyond the JSC to keep moving towards a better budget process. 

    We look forward to consideration of amendments in markup and will continue to update this blog with more amendments.