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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Budget Reconciliation Process: Timing of Committee Responses to Reconciliation Directives

Megan Suzanne Lynch
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

When reconciliation directives, also referred to as reconciliation instructions, are included in an annual budget resolution, their purpose is to require committees to develop and report reconciliation legislation that will achieve the budgetary goals set forth in the annual budget resolution. The reconciliation directives included in the budget resolution specify several things, including the committee instructed to report reconciliation legislation, the level of budgetary changes the committee should report, and the date by which the committee should report. 

Although reconciliation directives included in an annual budget resolution direct a committee to report legislation achieving a specific budgetary outcome by a specific date, there is no procedural mechanism for enforcing this date. Committees have often reported reconciliation legislation in response to their directives after the date specified, with no impact on whether the resultant legislation was considered under House and Senate procedures as reconciliation legislation. 

In some years, committees have not formally responded to the reconciliation directive instructing them to report legislation. Although there is no procedural mechanism for enforcing the date included in the committee's reconciliation directive, Congress may employ methods of moving forward with reconciliation legislation that falls within a non-reporting committee's jurisdiction in the event that the committee has not yet reported. These methods vary by chamber and are only employable in certain situations. 

Both the legislative committees and the Budget Committees in both chambers have important roles to play in utilizing the reconciliation process. This report examines the timing of certain stages of the reconciliation process, and the extent to which the submission due date included in a reconciliation instruction is a predictor for the timing of committee response. Specifically, it provides information on the dates by which committees have been directed to respond to reconciliation directives and the timing of House and Senate committees in responding to such directives in the past 10 Congresses (101st-111th Congresses). 

Date of Report: March 30, 2010
Number of Pages: 38
Order Number: R41151
Price: $29.95

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