- United States House Committee on the Budget
The U.S. House Committee on the Budget, commonly known as the House Budget Committee, is a
standing committeeof the United States House of Representatives, the lower houseof Congress. Its responsibilities include legislative oversight of the federal budget process, reviewing all bills and resolutions on the budget, and monitoring agencies and programs funded outside of the budgetary process.
Role of the House Budget Committee
The primary responsibility of the Budget Committee is the drafting and preparation of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, usually called the "budget resolution." This resolution sets the aggregate levels of spending and revenue that is expected to occur in a given fiscal year. Hence each session of Congress, a budget resolution by law must be enacted by April 15. This target date is rarely met, and in at least four years (FY1999, FY2003, FY2005, and FY2007) no budget resolution was ultimately adopted. This resolution also gives to each committee of the House an "allocation" of "new budget authority." This allocation is important in the consideration of legislation on the floor of the House. If a bill comes to the floor to be considered and it causes an increase in spending above this allocation, it is subject to a point of order (under 302(f) of the Congressional Budget Act). This is true for discretionary spending (spending that is provided to the Federal Government each year) and mandatory spending (spending such as entitlements where a beneficiary class is defined and a benefit is provided). If an entitlement is expanded and it has not been budgeted for in the budget resolution, it is subject to a point of order on the floor and, if not waived, will prevent it from being called up for consideration (if a Member of Congress stands before the body and makes the
point of order).
In general, legislation is cleared of such problems prior to consideration through discussions between the House Parliamentarian, the House Leadership, and the House Budget Committee.
The committee holds hearings on federal budget legislation and congressional resolutions related to the federal budget process. The committee holds hearings on the President's annual budget request to Congress and drafts the annual Congressional Budget Resolution, which sets overall spending guidelines for Congress as it develops the annual federal appropriations bills. The committee also reviews supplemental budget requests submitted by the President, which cover items which for one reason or another were not included in the original budget request, usually for emergency spending. Recently, emergency budget supplementals have been used to request funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for disaster recovery after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The committee may amend, approve, or table budget-related bills. It also has the power to enforce established federal budget rules, hold budget-related investigations, and
subpoenawitnesses. Additionally, the committee has oversight of the Congressional Budget Office.
Rules of the Committee
The committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month while the House is in session. Though this is required, it is almost always waived and the committee only meets when a subject of sufficient importance arises. This usually occurs during the early part of the calendar year when the President's budget is issued and important budgetary decisions must be made.
It is not permitted to conduct business unless a
quorumis present. For hearings, two Members must be present for a hearing to begin. For a business meeting, such as a "mark-up" of a legislative document, a majority of its members must be present. If a bill is passed out of committee without the requisite quorum, it may be subject to a point of order on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The committee may only consider measures placed before it either by the Chairman or a by a majority vote of its members.
Each member of the Committee may question witnesses during hearings, in order of seniority when the hearing is called to order. Otherwise, Members are recognized in order of their arrival after the gavel has brought the Committee to order.
Also under House rules, unlike other committees of the House of Representatives, membership on the Budget Committee is term limited. Rank and file members must rotate off the committee after serving for three terms. Chairmen and Ranking members may serve no more than four terms. (See Clause 5 of Rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives). [http://www.rules.house.gov/house_rules_precedents.htm] These limits are often waived, as they have been for Chairman John Kasich (R-OH), Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) and Chairman John Spratt (D-SC). Such a waiver requires a vote of the whole House, and is usually included in the opening day "Rules Package" that sets the rules for each successive Congress. Such a resolution is normally introduced as "House Resolution 5" or "House Resolution 6."
The House Budget Committee is one of the last committees created by Congress (the last being the Committee on Homeland Security) and these term limitations were instituted to help prevent it from being too influential. Other committees were concerned that the committee may, as the authority in setting budgetary priorities for the entire Federal Government, intrude into every part of the policy making and legislative decision making that involves Congress. Due to these concerns, five members of the committee, three for the majority and two for the minority, are required to be also members of the
Ways and Means Committeeand the Appropriations Committee; additionally, one member of the committee must be represented by the Rules Committee, and one each as a leadership appointee.
=Members, 110th Congress=
* [http://www.house.gov/budget/ House Budget Committee homepage]
* [http://budget.house.gov/members.shtml House Budget Committee Members]
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