There’s been a rumor going around that says the Senate has now gone about 1,000 days since passing a budget resolution. What the rumor mongers aren’t aware of or are not telling people is that last year, instead of a budget resolution, the Senate and the House passed, and the President signed, a budget control law.
Originally published May 7 on the Bulletin's website; reprinted as a response to the often-heard complaint -- Congress hasn't even passed a budget in recent years.
Frankly I actually do not think the Budget Control Act is a particularly sound law outside of the spending caps it enforces. The law was created under duress by House Republican leadership in order to get their member’s support for an increase in the debt ceiling. Regardless of my distaste for a great deal of the law, the spending caps it includes are positive and serve effectively as a budget resolution.
Budget Control Act
In addition to setting a decade’s worth of spending caps, the Budget Control Act required a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment I sponsored with my colleague Mark Udall of Colorado.
It increased the debt ceiling and set up the so-called Super Committee. The Super Committee was charged to find $1.2 trillion in additional savings or else that amount of savings will occur automatically through what’s called a “sequester.” The Super Committee did not come to agreement and a sequester of more than $100 billion is set to occur in 2013.
Regardless of the weaknesses of the Budget Control Act, it does, indisputably, set Congress’s spending limits for 10 years.
Many of the Members who want to use the budget resolution process as a wedge issue know they are being intellectually dishonest, but that isn’t a huge shock in this environment.
There are many, many serious problems Congress has to think about in order to address the debt imbalance. Should entitlements be fundamentally reformed? Should we overhaul the tax code? How should we pay for wars in the future? How should we pay for natural disaster reconstruction in the future?
There are plenty of difficult questions to answer and any number of failings in Congress that people can legitimately point to. But the fact is that we do have a budget and I hope my colleagues will see fit to get serious in this time when there is no more room for the type of partisanship that stirs up this type of false argument in the first place.