H.J.Res. 77: Resolution of Disapproval

H.J.Res. 77

Resolution of Disapproval

Sponsor
Rep.

Date
September 14, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, September 14, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.J.Res. 77, a Privileged Resolution subject to two hours of debate.  Under the provisions of S. 365, the Budget Control Act, all points of order against the joint resolution and its consideration are waived and no amendments to the joint resolution are in order.  H.J.Res. 77 was introduced by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) on September 7, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, which discharged the legislation on September 12, 2011. 

Bill Summary

H.J.Res. 77 would resolve that Congress disapproves the president’s use of authority to increase the debt limit by $900 billion, pursuant to the Budget Control Act (S. 365, P.L. 112-25).  If enacted, the legislation would prohibit a scheduled $500 billion increase in the statutory debt limit and would trigger a pro rata sequestration of the initial $400 billion debt limit increase that occurred on August 2, 2011.  The sequestration process would provide exceptions for Medicare, defense, veterans, and Social Security.

Background

On August 1, 2011, the House approved an amended version of S. 365, known as the Budget Control Act (BCA), by a vote of 269-161.  The BCA was signed by the president and enacted the following day.  The BCA provides for a debt limit increase between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion (depending on deficit reduction achieved) in two tranches, creates discretionary spending caps to cut spending over the next ten years, and establishes a Joint Committee to produce deficit reduction legislation.  The first increase in the statutory debt limit authorized by the BCA totals $900 billion and coincides with $917 billion in discretionary spending reductions between FY 2012 and FY 2021.  The $900 billion debt limit increase is subject to a congressional disapproval process and is split into two steps.  The first debt limit increase was $400 billion and occurred on August 2, 2011.  The next increase of $500 billion will automatically occur if a disapproval resolution is not enacted within 50 days of the initial increase.

The BCA stipulates that when the president submits a certification that the national debt is within $100 billion of the statutory limit, the Secretary of Treasury is authorized to increase the debt limit by a total of $900 billion in two separate steps.  That certification was submitted by the president on August 2, 2011, and the debt limit was raised by $400 billion, ensuring that borrowing could continue.  Following the $400 billion increase of the debt limit the BCA prohibits any further debt limit increase if, within 50 calendar days of the president’s certification, a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law.  Under the BCA, if the 50 day period for disapproval lapses without enactment of a joint resolution of disapproval, the debt limit will increase by the additional $500 billion.  Therefore, if the resolution of disapproval is not approved in both chambers and signed by the president, or if it is vetoed by the president and the veto is not overridden, the debt limit will automatically increase by $500 billion, for a total initial debt limit increase of $900 billion, which coincides with $917 billion in initial spending reductions contained in the BCA.  If a resolution of disapproval against the increase is approved and becomes law, the $500 billion increase will not occur and the $400 billion debt ceiling increase will be subject to pro rata sequestration with exceptions for Medicare, defense, veterans, and Social Security.

On August 2, 2011, President Obama submitted a certification that the debt was within $100 billion of its limit and the debt limit was increased by $400 billion, from $14.294 trillion to $14.694 trillion.  The $500 billion increase will occur 50 days after the president sent the original certification or September 21, 2011, if a resolution of disapproval is not enacted. Under the BCA, the resolution of disapproval of the debt limit increase will be considered under an expedited procedure. The expedited process for consideration of the resolution provides for the following procedures:

  • Any committee to which the joint resolution has been referred must report it to the House not later than five calendar days after the receipt of the Presidential certification. If a committee fails to report the joint resolution within the time period, the committee is discharged from further consideration.
  • Under the procedures, once the committee has reported the measure (or been discharged), and no later than the sixth day after its introduction, any Member can move that the House take up the joint resolution.
  • All points of order against the joint resolution and its consideration are waived.
  • No amendments to the joint resolution are in order.
  • The joint resolution is debatable for two hours prior to a vote on passage.

On September 7, 2011, the Senate voted 45-52 to reject a motion to proceed to a Senate resolution of disapproval, S.J. Res 25, which had been introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Cost

A CBO cost estimate of H.J.Res. 77 was not available as of press time.