House Members Urge the Adoption of a Budget Resolution

On Monday, a group of five Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling for increased fiscal responsibility to secure the long-term fiscal position of the United States. The letter, led by Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Ed Case (D-HI) and signed by Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Dean Phillips (D-MN), reiterates the need to complete an annual budget resolution to lay out a fiscal plan that includes a top-line appropriations level.  

Under current law, federal debt held by the public will total 108 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this fiscal year and rise further to 113 percent by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2031 and over 200 percent of GDP by 2051. At the same time, the budget deficit will total a record $3.4 trillion this year before falling to $1.6 trillion in 2022 and remain around $1 trillion over the foreseeable future. This trajectory is unsustainable. Adoption of an annual budget resolution, the letter argues, could help put the country on solid fiscal ground.

A budget resolution is not a law but serves as a fiscal outline for Congress, laying out totals for revenue, spending, deficits, and debt for at least five years (read more here). Adopting a budget resolution is the only time Congress puts forward a plan addressing all spending and revenue areas. The letter calls on Congress to “pass a budget resolution that, at a minimum, stabilizes the debt as a share of the economy over the next ten years, prior to passing any significant spending or tax legislation.” Furthermore, “the budget should be a realistic plan for the country that we can use as a map for governing.”

The letter to Speaker Pelosi comes as the House adopted a “deeming” resolution that will allow the House Appropriations Committee to begin drafting the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY 2022. The top-line discretionary spending level, known as the 302(a), is $1.5 trillion for FY 2022, effectively allowing the House to move forward on President Joe Biden’s FY 2022 discretionary spending request.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget commends Representatives Bourdeaux, Schrader, Case, Murphy, and Phillips for reiterating the need to budget responsibly and for highlighting adoption of an annual budget resolution as a mechanism to put the nation on solid fiscal ground.

As Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said:

“Budgeting is the most basic responsibility of governing— it lays out the vision, values, and priorities of a nation. This country should not accept moving forward on an ad hoc basis without a budget in place. Representative Bourdeaux and the members on this letter are showing the type of leadership we need right now in asking Congressional leaders to move forward on a budget resolution before acting on any major tax or spending bills.”