Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974

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Budget Act of 1974
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to establish a new congressional budget process; to establish Committees on the Budget in each House; to establish a Congressional Budget Office; to establish a procedure providing congressional control over the impoundment of funds by the executive branch; and for other purposes.
Enacted bythe 93rd United States Congress
EffectiveJuly 12, 1974
Public law93-344
Statutes at Large88 Stat. 297
Titles amended2 U.S.C.: Congress
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 7130 by Al Ullman (D-OR) on April 18, 1973
  • Committee consideration by House Rules
  • Passed the House on December 5, 1973 (386-23)
  • Passed the Senate on March 22, 1974 (80-0, in lieu of S. 1541)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on June 11, 1974; agreed to by the House on June 18, 1974 (401-6) and by the Senate on June 21, 1974 (75-0)
  • Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on July 12, 1974
Major amendments
Budget Control Act of 2011
United States Supreme Court cases
Train v. City of New York

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (Pub.L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601688) is a United States federal law that governs the role of the Congress in the United States budget process.

The Congressional budget process[edit]

Titles I through IX of the law are also known as the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Title II created the Congressional Budget Office. Title III governs the procedures by which Congress annually adopts a budget resolution, a concurrent resolution that is not signed by the President, which sets fiscal policy for the Congress. This budget resolution sets limits on revenues and spending that may be enforced in Congress through procedural objections called points of order. The budget resolution can also specify that a budget reconciliation bill be written, which the Congress will then consider under expedited procedures.

Later amendments[edit]

The act has been amended several times, including provisions in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The original 1974 legislation, however, remains the basic blueprint for budget procedures today.

The Byrd Rule[edit]

The limitation on debate that prevents a budget reconciliation bill from being filibustered in the Senate (requiring a three-fifths vote to end debate) led to frequent attempts to attach amendments unrelated to the budget to the reconciliation bills. In response, the budget reconciliation acts of 1985, 1986, and 1990 adopted the "Byrd Rule" (Section 313 of the Budget Act).[1] The Byrd Rule allows Senators to raise points of order (which can be waived by a three-fifths majority of Senators)[2]) against provisions in the reconciliation bills that are "extraneous."[3]

Provisions are considered extraneous if they:

  1. do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
  2. produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
  3. are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
  4. increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision's title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee's reconciliation instructions;
  5. increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision's title, as a whole, remains budget neutral; or
  6. contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

Sunset provisions[edit]

Since the reconciliation bill may cover as many as ten years, the fifth provision can have the effect of requiring that any tax cut or spending increase be approved by a three-fifths majority, or else the law must return to its previous state after ten years. This is responsible for the use of sunset clauses in several recent budget acts, when proposed tax cuts commanded majority support but not the necessary three-fifths majority to suspend the Byrd Rule. For example, many of the provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 would have expired as soon as fiscal year 2010 if not extended. The provisions that were to expire included the $1000 per child tax credit, the 10% income tax bracket for low-income workers, and the deduction for state and local sales taxes paid. The expiration dates in those Acts were inserted in order to avoid Byrd Rule points of order. Provisions against which a Byrd Rule point of order is sustained are colloquially referred to as "Byrd droppings".[citation needed]


Title X of the Act, also known as the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, specifies that the President may request that Congress rescind appropriated funds. If both the Senate and the House of Representatives have not approved a rescission proposal (by passing legislation) within 45 days of continuous session, any funds being withheld must be made available for obligation. Congress is not required to vote on the request, and has ignored most Presidential requests.[4] In response, some[who?] have called for a line item veto to strengthen the rescission power and force Congress to vote on the disputed funds.

The Act was passed in response to feelings in Congress that President Nixon was abusing his power of impoundment by withholding funding of programs he opposed. The Act, especially after Train v. City of New York (1975), effectively removed the presidential power of impoundment.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate's "Byrd Rule"" (PDF). U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 2, 2010.
  2. ^ Baumann, David (April 18, 2005). "Byrd Brains". NationalJournal.
  3. ^ "Summary of the Byrd rule". U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010.
  4. ^ "2 USC Chapter 17B – Impoundment Control". US Code. US House of Representatives. Archived from the original on March 6, 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  5. ^ 420 U.S. 35 (1975).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]