Statement of James L. Blum, Deputy Director Congressional Budget Office on: Budgeting for Emergency Spending Before the Task Force on Budget Process Committee on the Budget US House of Representatives
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (U S CONGRESS) WASHINGTON DC
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The Congressional Budget Office CBO was asked to review the current budgetary treatment of emergency spending, highlight recent trends in emergency and supplemental appropriations, and discuss various options for changing the way policymakers budget for emergencies. CBO was asked to evaluate the idea of a separate reserve fund for emergencies. This testimony today will make the following points For the past decade or so, policymakers have explicitly acknowledged the value of a budgetary safety valve for emergency spending. Under the current practice for finding emergency needs, most emergency spending is provided in supplemental appropriations as emergencies arise, thereby putting a premium on Congressional control over advance planning. Since the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 was passed, the Congress has generally offset all non emergency supplemental appropriations with rescissions. Since 1994, the Congress has offset certain emergency supplementals as well. Various options for changing the budgetary treatment of emergencies, including a reserve fund, may highlight emergency needs more effectively and improve planning. However, those changes could make it more difficult to respond to emergencies and could diminish Congressional control.
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