Legislative update: FY 2016 congressional budget resolution

FY 2016 congressional budget resolution

House and Senate negotiators have come to an agreement setting forth the FY 2016 congressional budget resolution.

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The Concurrent Resolution on the Budget must now be passed by the full House and full Senate before becoming effective to govern congressional spending decisions. The budget does not need to be approved by the president.

Effects of budget resolution

Notably, the budget does not set the stage for Congress to be able to use special budget procedures—known as “reconciliation”—to protect significant tax legislation, such as tax reform, from a filibuster in the Senate.

Rather, the budget contains a significantly less aggressive procedure removing certain budget rule hurdles for any legislation that is able to garner the needed 60 votes required in the Senate to overcome an almost inevitable filibuster threat and that would reform the tax code, repeal the medical device tax, or extend the “tax extenders.”

Macroeconomic scoring

The budget also contains rules requiring the Joint Committee on Taxation to provide estimates of the budgetary impact of tax legislation that incorporates macroeconomic variables such as changes in economic output, employment, and capital stock that would result from the legislation over a 20-year period. The requirement would apply for legislation expected to have an impact of at least 0.25% of U.S. GDP or for which such a score is requested.

While these “macroeconomic scores” would be provided only for information uses in the Senate, a change made in the rules governing the House of Representatives in January requires that this macroeconomic score be used for consideration of tax legislation. 

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