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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Congressional Budget Resolutions: Reporting Deadline in the Senate

Robert Keith
Specialist in American National Government

The House and Senate are required under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, as amended, to complete action each year on a budget resolution before spending, revenue, and debt-limit legislation can be considered. In order to facilitate timeliness in the congressional budget process, Section 300 (2 U.S.C. 631) of the 1974 act establishes a timetable that requires the Senate Budget Committee to report a budget resolution by April 1 and the House and Senate to reach final agreement on a budget resolution by April 15. (Prior to FY1987, the deadline for reporting the budget resolution was April 15 and the deadline for its final adoption was May 15.) 

During the 35 years that the congressional budget process has been in effect, the Senate Budget Committee has reported 33 budget resolutions subject to the April deadline. (The budget resolutions for FY1991 and FY2002 were discharged from the committee.) 

The 33 budget resolutions were reported, on average, exactly on the deadline. Further, on the basis of averages, compliance with the two deadlines was the same: the averages for the period under the April 15 reporting deadline (FY1976-FY1986) and the April 1 reporting deadline (FY1987-FY2010) were identical—exactly on the deadline. 

Twenty-one of the budget resolutions were reported in a timely manner. The reporting date for these budget resolutions ranged from zero to 27 days before the deadline and averaged 12.2 days before the deadline. The remaining 12 budget resolutions were reported from two to 48 days after the deadline, averaging 21.3 days after the deadline. The reporting of the budget resolutions for FY1996-FY1998 was significantly tardy, but the recent record has been much better. The budget resolutions for these three years were reported between 42 days and 48 days after the deadline. Following these three years, however, the measure has been reported on time in 10 of 11 years (the one tardy budget resolution was reported 10 days after the deadline). 

This report will be updated as developments warrant.

Date of Report: December 31, 2009
Number of Pages: 8
Order Number: RS20541
Price: $29.95

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