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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis March 23, 2012
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House, Senate Budget Chairs Release FY 2013 Budget Outlines

This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his Committee’s Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2013, setting broad guidelines for spending and revenues, including policy guidance aimed at shaping the spending and tax provisions of the budget.

The Budget Resolution is a required part of the congressional budget process set forth in the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Although it does not have the force of law, the resolution is a central part of the budget process in Congress as it represents an agreement between the House and Senate that establishes budget priorities, and defines the parameters for all subsequent budgetary actions. The spending, revenue, and public debt legislation necessary to implement decisions agreed to in the budget resolution are subsequently enacted separately.

Ryan’s budget includes projections of deep cuts to budget authority for transportation programs in FY 2013 and beyond. It also envisions specific cuts to current and planned high-speed and intercity rail projects, but policy of that nature must be legislated by the authorization and appropriations committees.

However, in a departure from last year’s budget resolution, the Ryan budget includes provisions allowing for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to work with the House Ways and Means Committee and other committees to find additional revenues or offsets to pay for the pending surface transportation authorization bill.

The Ryan budget also proposes to reprioritize the spending cuts planned to take place under the sequestration process set forth under the Budget Control Act of 2011 passed to implement last year’s debt limit and deficit control agreement.

In the Senate, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) was taking a substantially different approach from the House Budget Committee, arguing that spending levels for FY 2013 had already been set through the Budget Control Act as part of last year’s debt agreement. Conrad announced March 20 that he had filed a “deeming” resolution (as statutorily required under the act) adhering to the levels established in last year’s agreement, which will enable the Appropriations Committee to move forward in writing the 12 FY 2013 appropriations bills that fund the federal government.

“The fact is the budget for the next fiscal year is already in place,” Conrad stated. “The Budget Control Act provided the key components of the budget for 2012 and 2013, including setting discretionary spending limits and providing the tools to enforce those limits. It is the law of the land. And today I filed a budget deeming resolution in the Senate that formally sets spending to match the levels agreed to in that law.”

Conrad’s statement also indicated that the deeming resolution sets budget enforcement levels for the five-year window through 2017, and the 10-year window through 2022.
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