budget

Opinion: Congress Needs to Hold On to Its Power of the Purse
Any rescission proposal from the White House should be acted upon quickly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan at the Capitol in February. Congress should act quickly on any rescission proposal from the Trump administration to avoid relinquishing more control over the appropriations process to the executive branch, Hoagland writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sixteen words in the U.S. Constitution have governed the federal government’s budget process for over 230 years: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Presidents of all parties over the country’s long history, nonetheless, have sought to wrest from Congress more control over the Treasury than those 16 words allow.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln spent millions of dollars without congressional approval. While this was otherwise an unconstitutional act, Lincoln felt his actions were guided by the greater responsibility of his oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Balanced-Budget Amendment Falls Short in House
Roll call vote could provide midterm campaign fodder

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., encouraged her caucus to vote against the balanced budget amendment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans fell short of the two-thirds support needed to send a balanced-budget amendment to the Senate on Thursday, but they succeeded in getting a roll call vote that can be used during the midterm campaigns to criticize Democrats as lax on fiscal discipline.

The 233-184 vote followed four hours of debate that centered on the growth of entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as how balancing the budget would impact the economy.

State Activists Watching Washington Balanced-Budget Kabuki
Rapt audience for Thursday’s symbolic vote

State activists hope this week’s balanced-budget vote will bring national attention to their work. Above, staffers attend a House Financial Services Committee hearing in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House’s balanced-budget amendment vote Thursday may be a symbolic gesture aimed at shoring up Republicans’ conservative base in advance of the midterm elections. But it’s all too real for activists at the state level, who are watching closely and thrilled about the national spotlight on an issue that has been percolating quietly outside the Beltway.

Despite the joint resolution’s lack of support within the halls of Congress, there is still optimism that a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution will be sent to the states for ratification during the next few years.

Senate Republicans View White House Rescissions Package as Non-Starter
Senators skeptical of going back on the bipartisan spending deal

Asked Monday about a proposal to rescind omnibus funds, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said “It’s going nowhere.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Republicans on Monday threw cold water on a forthcoming proposal from the White House that will ask Congress to cut previously enacted spending, including from the $1.3 trillion spending bill that President Donald Trump signed last month.

Republican lawmakers are concerned about how moving forward with a “rescissions” package would affect future bipartisan negotiations over spending bills.

Pelosi Urges Democrats to Oppose Farm Bill, Balanced Budget Amendment, Rescissions
Minority leader pens Dear Colleague letter on 'what challenges lie ahead'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is urging her colleagues to oppose the farm bill and a balanced budget amendment measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi welcomed her Democratic colleagues back from a two-week spring recess with a “Dear Colleague” letter urging them to oppose several upcoming pieces of legislation. 

Included in Pelosi’s list was the farm bill reauthorizing agriculture programs, which is typically a bipartisan measure. But Republicans this year have been pushing to add work requirements to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. 

CBO Sees $804 Billion 2018 Deficit, $1 Trillion Gap By 2020
Tax cuts, omnibus deal are big drivers of red ink

The Congressional Budget Office, which Keith Hall, above, is the director of, is projecting bigger deficits thanks largely to tax cuts and the omnibus spending deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The deficit is estimated to climb to $804 billion this year and $981 billion in fiscal 2019, hitting $1 trillion in 2020 and topping $1.5 trillion in 2028, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday.

In their latest semiannual budget and economic outlook, CBO said debt held by the public will rise to $15.7 trillion in fiscal 2018 and continue to grow, hitting $28.7 trillion or 96 percent of the size of the economy in 2028.

Podcast: Back to the Future for the 2018 Spending Bill
CQ Budget, Episode 55

President Donald Trump and his administration are discussing a process with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that could allow Republicans to rescind some funds they recently approved in the bipartisan omnibus spending bill. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo

Hoyer Pushes Back on Trump Plans on Omnibus, Border, Trade
Rep. Ron Kind, who Hoyer visited in Wisconsin, also critical of administration moves

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., has been traveling around the country with Democrats’ political messaging. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — While House Minority Whip Steny  H. Hoyer and other lawmakers were outside of Washington the past two weeks, President Donald Trump and his administration prepared policy pushes for Congress’ return that will certainly spark Democratic backlash — and perhaps some from Republicans too.

Hoyer, in an interview here Thursday during a stop on his Make It In America listening tour, panned Trump’s plans to rescind funds from the recently passed omnibus, send the National Guard to defend the southern border and impose additional tariffs on China that would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy.

Congress Returns, With Eyes Off the Floors
Committee activity will be headlined by Zuckerberg and Trump Cabinet picks

Senate GOP leadership likely did not anticipate reserving chunks of time ahead of the midterms this year for Cabinet-level posts that were already filled. Pictured above, from left: Sens. Cory Gardner, John Barrasso and Roy Blunt, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress returns Monday after two weeks away, but much of the focus will be on the action outside the House and Senate chambers.

The highlight of the week will be hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg amid the ongoing fallout from the social media giant’s admission that user data was improperly shared with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Aides: House Will Take Up Balanced-Budget Amendment Next Week
Democrats pan move as a face-saving gimmick

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., says a balanced-budget amendment has been one of his “highest priorities” during his time in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will vote next week on a balanced-budget amendment authored by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, GOP aides said Thursday.

The measure would bar Congress from spending more than the government takes in each year, unless three-fifths of each chamber voted to allow excess outlays. It would also require a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit, a high bar for one of the most unpopular votes lawmakers take every few years.