congressional budget resolution
Anyone who thinks H.R. 325 -- the No Budget No Pay law that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wants everyone to believe will do so much and be so important -- will, in fact, make any difference is both falling for Boehner's spin and doesn't understand how the congressional budget process really works.
According to the Congressional Budget Act, a "budget" is not really a budget until the House and Senate agree on a congressional budget resolution conference report, that is, each house has to adopt its own budget and then compromise with the other on a joint agreement. The House- or Senate-passed budget resolution means nothing and neither that house nor Congress as a whole is obligated to follow it.
But the text of H.R. 325 makes it clear that the budget included in No Budget No Pay is not a budget resolution conference report:
We'll know much more about what, if anything, Congress will be able to do with fiscal policy when returns from its two-week recess next week.
In the meantime, some of the plans that were discussed before the recess began, especially the possibility of Congress not completing a budget this year, may have to be abandoned in light of the new projection provided by the Congressional Budget Office that, contrary to what many on the Hill had hoped, the current debt ceiling will have to be raised before the election. (Here's what OMB Watch reported on the subject.)
Amid the current economic turmoil, the House and Senate this week passed separate versions of the fiscal 2009 congressional budget resolution.
On the one hand, this is important. For the second year in a row Congress is actually going to adopt a budget for the coming year, something that it is legally required to do but wasn't always able to do when Republicans were in the majority.