The budget resolution reported out by the House Budget Committee (HBC) on a 20-16 vote would cut the federal deficit by almost $7 trillion over the next 10 years and reach a balanced budget in FY2026, according to the committee.
HBC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) said the plan would balance the budget through commonsense reforms and greater economic growth; to create a healthier economy, more secure nation, and a more accountable Washington.”
The HBC emphasized that the proposal 1) balances the budget in 10 years by cutting spending and promoting fiscal discipline, 2) strengthens national defense by providing increased resources to the Department of Defense and closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and 3) empowers U.S. Citizens and communities by repealing Obamacare, strengthening Medicare, and dismantling the Department of Commerce.
The annual budget resolution, often referred to as a “congressional budget blueprint,” sets revenue and appropriations targets for the tax writing and appropriations committees, so they can begin work on the president’s budget request. This is an internal congressional procedure, so the passed budget resolution is not sent to the president for approval.
The HBC plan, using the same name as last year “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” would set the FY2017 total federal spending level at $3.9 trillion, $186 billion less than current policy.
The $7 trillion reduction in the deficit for FY2017-2026 would come from $6.5 trillion reductions in spending, a small increase in revenue (+$225 billion ), and $241 billion cuts from resulting economic changes. Of the $6.5 trillion in spending cuts, $2 trillion would come from repealing Obamacare, $2.9 trillion from reforms to Medicare (-$449 billion), Medicaid (-$1 trillion), and other mandatory programs (-$1.5 trillion). The remaining reductions would result from cuts to discretionary programs (-$690 billion) and lower interest payments on the debt (-$856 billion).
The HBC took no action to end sequestration.
The discretionary budget authority for national defense (DoD plus other defense-related spending such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear program) would increase over the budget caps by $268 billion from FY2017 to FY2026, while non-defense budgets would be cut by $759 billion over the same period, according to the HBC budget. The budget agreement set the budget caps for 2017-2021 and the budget resolution calculates cap levels for 2022-2027 budget authority using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline estimates.
For FY2017, the proposed budget would keep defense at the sequester level of $551 billion, would allow $23 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to be used for base budget requirements.
The Defense budget proposal may prove to be a sticking point as defense hawks are pushing for a larger number than included in the budget agreement and there is still disagreement in Congress (primarily from Democrats) on whether or not to use the OCO account to fund base priorities as the HBC proposes.
To placate calls from the House Republican Caucus for larger cuts to total spending in FY2017, the HBC resolution includes an amendment calling for a separate vote on a proposed $30 billion cut to mandatory spending.
House floor action has not been scheduled.