Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volumen 18  Issue 41- November 15, 2011



The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has a little over a week to find $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years. The Budget Control Act (PL 112-25) gives the 12 “supercommittee” members until Nov. 23 to develop a proposal for Congress. But it will need to be finalized by Nov. 21 to give the Congressional Budget Office the required 48 hours to score the plan. Last week, both Democrats and Republicans offered proposals attempting to find common ground. Republicans first offered a $1.5 billion plan containing $300 billion in new revenues. The next day Democrats suggested a “$1 trillion for $1 trillion” framework with equal savings coming from revenue gains and spending cuts. The proposal, totaling $2.3 trillion with interest savings, would cut $200 billion in nondefense discretionary spending and $400 billion in savings from Medicare and Medicaid. If a tax reform package is not enacted by the beginning of 2013, the plan includes a trigger mechanism that would target both deductions for high-income earners and income tax liabilities of taxpayers. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley  


Both chambers of Congress are determining when they will vote on a balanced budget amendment as required in the Budget Control Act. The House of Representatives will likely vote by the end of this week, with a spending cap or supermajority for raising taxes unlikely to be incorporated. Any version faces an uphill climb, as a constitutional change would require two-thirds support in both chambers, along with support from at least 38 state legislatures. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley  


Congress continues to work on two separate ‘minibuses’ that include half of the appropriations spending bills. On Monday, appropriators agreed on a $128 billion package, H.R. 2122, that would abide by the spending levels designated by the Budget Control Act. It includes $19.8 billion for Agriculture, $52.7 billion for Commerce-Justice-Science, and $55.6 billion for Transportation-HUD. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program received a slight boost to $6.6 billion—an increase of $570 million and $36 million in previous recommendations from the House and Senate, respectively. Highway funding slightly decreases from FY 2011 to $39.9 billion, but is considerably higher than the $27 billion proposed in the House. The Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) program increases by $40 million to $470 million for FY 2012, although new requirements reduce states flexibility to allocate the funding. The spending package will also include the third continuing resolution for FY 2012, which would fund the federal government past the current Nov. 18 deadline through Dec. 16. Both the House and Senate will need to adopt the conference report before it can move to the president’s desk. 

Meanwhile, hope that a second ‘minibus’ will pass before Congress recesses for the Thanksgiving holiday appears to be dwindling. The $127.8 billion package combines the Energy-Water, Financial Services, and State-Foreign Operations spending bills. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley