H.R. 3521: Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act

H.R. 3521

Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act

Sponsor
Rep. Paul Ryan

Date
February 8, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3521, the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act, subject to a rule. The rule provides one hour of debate, equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Budget Committee. The rule also makes two amendments in order, each of which is debatable for up to ten minutes. A full summary of the amendments made in order under the rule, including a Manager’s Amendment offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), is available below. The bill was introduced on November 30, 2011, by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and referred to the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee. The Committee on Rules met on January 31, 2012, and ordered H.R. 3521 favorably reported to the House with an amendment by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3521 would establish an expedited procedure for consideration of presidential proposals to rescind certain spending provisions in newly enacted spending legislation. Under the expedited procedure, Congress would be required to consider proposals to rescind specific funding included in spending legislation if the rescission is proposed by the president within 45 days of the spending bill’s enactment. The authority of the president to propose rescission packages for expedited consideration established by H.R. 3521 would expire on December 15, 2015.

Congressional Consideration of Proposed Rescissions: H.R. 3521 would amend the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to authorize the president to propose the rescission of all or part of funding contained in a spending bill within 45 days of the bill’s enactment. For each piece of legislation that provides funding, the president would be authorized to request at most two packages of rescissions and the president would be prohibited from including the same rescission in both packages. In order to propose that Congress rescind funding, the president would be required to transmit a message to Congress specifying the following: 

  1. The dollar amount to be rescinded;
  2. The agency, bureau, and account from which the rescission shall occur;
  3. The program, project, or activity within the account (if applicable) from which the rescission shall occur;
  4. The amount of funding, if any, that would remain for the account, program, project, or activity if the rescission request is enacted;
  5. The reasons the president requests the rescission;
  6. To the maximum extent practicable, the estimated fiscal, economic, and budgetary effect (including the effect on outlays and receipts in each fiscal year) of the proposed rescission;
  7. To the maximum extent practicable, all facts, circumstances, and considerations relating to or bearing upon the proposed rescission and the decision to propose the rescission, and the estimated effect of the proposed rescission upon the objects, purposes, or programs; and
  8. If a second special message is transmitted, a detailed explanation of why the proposed rescissions are not substantially similar to any other proposed rescission in such other message.

In addition, the president would be required to designate each separate rescission request by number and include proposed legislative text. The proposed text may not include any changes in existing law, other than the rescission of funding, or any supplemental appropriations, transfers, or reprogrammings.

Grants of and Limitations on Presidential Authority: H.R. 3521 would grant the president the authority to withhold funding proposed for rescission from obligation, subject to time limits, to ensure that those funds are available for cancellation upon enactment of an approval bill. Under the legislation, the president would be able to withhold funding until 1) the president determines that the continued withholding or reduction no longer advances the purpose of legislative consideration of the approval bill; 2) the 45th day following the date of enactment of the funding bill; or 3) the last day that the president determines the obligation of the funding in question can no longer be fully accomplished in a prudent manner before its expiration.

The bill would also mandate that any savings achieved through these procedures be used for reducing the deficit or increasing the surplus. This section also provides for necessary adjustments to levels in the concurrent resolution on the budget and statutory limits.

Procedures for Expedited Consideration: H.R. 3521 would create a special, expedited procedure for consideration of presidential proposals to rescind spending. Under the expedited procedure, the legislation to approve of the recessions would have to be introduced by the majority leader or a designee within five legislative days. Any committee to which the approval bill is referred would be required to report it, without amendment, within five legislative days. If the rescission approval bill is not reported by the committee within five days, it would be automatically discharged from committee.

H.R. 3521 would make it in order for a member to make a motion to proceed to consideration of the approval measure within five days of when it is reported or discharged out of committee. If a motion to proceed is agreed to, the House would be required to proceed to consideration of the approval bill without intervening motion, except two hours of debate.

In the Senate, each committee of referral would be required to report the bill without amendment within five session days. Again, if the committee fails to report the bill within that period the bill would be automatically discharged. Not later than five session days after the bill is reported or discharged, any Senator may move to proceed to consider the approval bill in the Senate.

Treatment of Rescissions: Under the legislation, rescissions proposed by the president would only take effect upon enactment of a rescission approval bill. If the approval bill isn’t enacted within 45 days from the enactment of the appropriations act, it is no longer eligible for expedited consideration.

 

Background

According to Committee Report 112-364, the 111th Congress increased non-defense discretionary spending by nearly 25 percent, or by 84 percent when including appropriated funding contained in the “stimulus” bill.  In addition, the president's budget request for Fiscal Year 2012 would have increased spending by $6.2 trillion over the House-passed budget resolution.

The 112th Congress has reduced discretionary appropriations spending by $95 billion below fiscal year 2010 levels. These reductions in spending mark the first time in modern history that Congress has cut discretionary spending two years in a row.

H.R. 3521 was introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the Committee on the Budget, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking minority member of the Committee on the Budget. The bill would ensure that the president and Congress have additional tools to evaluate and cut Federal spending, which will help the government make better-informed decisions about national priorities. This bipartisan collaboration highlights the growing need and increasing public demand for reforms in Federal spending.

Cost

According to CBO, “enacting H.R. 3521, by itself, would not have a significant impact on the federal budget. Any impact on the budget would depend on the extent of the President’s use of the new cancellation procedure and on future Congressional actions.”

Amendments

Amendment No. 1—Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)/Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):  The Manager’s Amendment would change certain time periods established by the bill relating to the introduction and consideration of a rescission proposal. In addition, the amendment would indicate that the approval bill should be an appropriation bill and should be referred specifically to the appropriations committee. According to it sponsors, the Managers’ Amendment would restore language from the Budget Committee reported bill.

The amendment would reduce and extend certain time periods as follows:

  • The amendment would require the president to propose a rescission package within 10 days of enactment of a spending bill, rather than 45 days.
  • The amendment would allow to president to withhold funding proposed for rescission from obligation until the 60th day following the date of enactment of the funding bill, rather than the 45th day.
  • The amendment would require the chairs of the Committees on the Budget of the Senate and the House of Representatives to revise allocations and aggregates to reflect the rescissions within three days of the enactment of a rescission approval bill, rather than five days.
  • The amendment would require the introduction of a rescission approval bill no later than three days after receipt from the president, rather than five days.
  • The amendment would require committees to report a rescission approval bill within three days, rather than five.
  • The amendment would make it in order to proceed to consideration of a rescission approval bill within three days of when it is reported or discharged out of committee, rather than five.
  • The amendment would extend the period that a rescission approval bill could be enacted to 60 days from the enactment of the original funding bill, rather than 45.

Amendment No. 2—Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA): The amendment would prohibit the president from proposing any rescission to funds appropriated by Congress for the Corps of Engineers.