May 26, 2017

Considering Supplemental Spending Bill, Senate Should Avoid Extraneous Additions and a "Deeming Resolution"

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

Today the Senate began considering the $59 billion supplemental spending bill (HR 4899) that its Appropriations Committee approved last week. The bill includes emergency funding for priorities such as military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, disaster assistance and veterans disability payments.

The Concord Coalition urges policymakers to resist adding any extraneous, non-emergency spending that should instead be considered through the regular appropriations process.

Another potential addition to the bill is a “deeming resolution.”  Such measures are procedural shortcuts that Congress resorts to when its members have not lived up to their responsibility to pass a budget resolution. Some may argue that a deeming resolution is an effective substitute for a budget resolution.  It is not.

In recent years, deeming resolutions have been used to provide allocations to the Appropriations Committees or to adjust budget enforcement mechanisms. Because such resolutions typically do not include multi-year targets for deficits, spending and revenue, however, they do not establish an effective framework to guide Congress as it considers legislation.  A deeming resolution also cannot be used for reconciliation instructions that may be used for deficit reduction or compliance with the new PAYGO law.

For elected officials who lack the political will to make difficult choices, a deeming resolution is a tempting shortcut to move appropriations bills forward.  Unfortunately for Congress, you can’t deem the deficits away.