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Senate, House Committees Move FY2010 Budget Resolutions

This week, the House and Senate Budget Committees approved their respective versions of the FY2010 budget resolution. The nonbinding resolutions provide guidelines for federal spending in the upcoming fiscal year. The president released a summary of his budget on February 26 (see The Source, 2/27/09).

House Budget Committee

On March 25, the House Budget Committee approved, 24-15, its version of the FY2010 budget resolution (as-yet-unnumbered).

The measure would provide $1.229 trillion in discretionary spending, $338 billion less than the president’s budget request, and allocate $48.454 billion for international affairs, $88.676 billion for education, training, employment, and social services, and $58.158 billion for health care programs.

The resolution includes budget reconciliation instructions that direct the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means to reduce the deficit by $1 billion by FY2014 by crafting legislation on health care reform. The House Education and Labor Committee also would be directed to reduce the deficit by $1 billion by FY2014 by reporting legislation on education reform.

The resolution would create a “deficit-neutral reserve fund for health care reform.” The reserve fund would allow Chair John Spratt (D-SC) to revise the allocations set forth in the budget resolution if any future measure improves health care without increasing the deficit or decreasing a future surplus. Similar deficit-neutral reserve funds also would be created for any future measure that improves college affordability, including increasing annual Pell grants; provides “tax relief that supports working families, including the child tax credit”; reauthorizes, expands, or improves child nutrition programs; reforms unemployment insurance; increases child support payments; funds programs of “home visits to low-income mothers-to-be and low-income families which will produce sizeable, sustained improvements in the health and well-being of children and their parents.”

During debate on the measure, the committee approved, by voice vote, an amendment by Ranking Member Paul Ryan (R-WI) that expresses the sense of Congress that additional legislative action is needed to ensure states have the ability to collect outstanding child support owed to families.

The committee rejected: 

  • an amendment by Rep. Ryan to bar the health care reserve fund from creating a government-controlled health insurance plan, 14-23; and
  • another amendment by Rep. Ryan to delete the budget reconciliation provisions, 14-22.

Senate Budget Committee

On March 26, the Senate Budget Committee approved, 13-10, the FY2010 budget resolution (as-yet-unnumbered).

The resolution would provide $1.081 trillion in discretionary spending in FY2010. Included in that amount is $2.9 billion for community health centers and $49.8 billion for international affairs.

The Senate resolution also includes deficit-neutral reserve funds to expand access to higher education, including increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,500, as requested by President Obama, and for legislation “that would reauthorize child nutrition programs and/or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC].”

Tax relief is included in the budget resolution. The resolution would cut taxes by $825 billion by FY2014 by reducing income taxes on families earning less than $250,000 per year; extending the 10 percent tax bracket and the child tax credit; and making permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a $2,500 credit for higher education, and other deductions related to education expenses for families and teachers.

A deficit-neutral reserve fund “for legislation that transforms and modernizes our health care system” also is included. According to the budget resolution, the legislation “expands affordable coverage, improves health care quality and health outcomes, and constrains costs, provided that such legislation is deficit-neutral over 11 years, reduces excess cost growth in health care spending, and is fiscally sustainable over the long-term.”

During debate on the resolution, the committee adopted:

  • an amendment by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) that would reduce crop insurance by $350 million and increase funding for child nutrition programs by $175 million, 14-9;
  • an amendment by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) that would expand the health care reserve fund to include legislation on increasing the transparency of pricing for health services, by voice vote; and
  • an amendment by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) that would increase funding for the Small Business Administration by $180 million, offset by a corresponding decrease in general administrative funds, 13-10.

The committee rejected the following amendments:

  • an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to freeze all non-defense discretionary spending at its current level through FY2010 and then limit the growth to one percent during the following three years, 10-13;
  • an amendment by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to require that legislation originating via the health care reserve fund comply with the current pay-as-you-go rule, 10-13;
  • an amendment by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund for health information technology, 11-12; and
  • an amendment by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to create a deficit-neutral reserve fund to extend the abstinence-only sex education program, 10-13.
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