Statement of Dan L. Crippen, Director Congressional Budget Office: Extending the Budget Enforcement Act
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (U S CONGRESS) WASHINGTON DC
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The major provisions of the BEA expire at the end of fiscal year 2002. The basic framework of enforcement procedures established by that law the annual limits on discretionary appropriations and the pay-as-you-go PAYGO requirement for new mandatory spending and revenue laws has generally helped to improve budgetary discipline over the past decade. However, issues and concerns about the law have arisen, especially in recent years. My testimony today will make the following major points The key budget enforcement provisions of the BEA, which cover the statutory sequestration procedures enforced by the executive branch, will expire on September 30, 2002. In contrast, the Congressional budget process, which centers on the adoption and enforcement of the Congressional budget resolution, generally does not expire with the exception of certain Senate procedures. On the whole, the BEA has been salutary. It promoted budget constraint that helped to produce the surpluses that have emerged since 1998. However, those surpluses and other factors have also put increasing pressure on lawmakers to circumvent the discretionary spending caps and the PAYGO requirement, making them less effective recently. Possible improvements in the BEAs framework include enhancing flexibility within the discretionary caps and clarifying how to classify certain budget transactions for the purposes of enforcing the BEA. Broader changes, such as those in the Nussle-Cardin budget reform legislation of the 106th Congress H.R. 853, could help to improve the budget process. Ultimately, however, that process has only a limited influence on the formation of a political consensus no procedural change can guarantee agreement on budget policies.
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