Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Congress Sets off on Windy Road to a Balanced Budget

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Congress Sets off on Windy Road to a Balanced Budget

Article excerpt

Congress has taken the first step toward achieving a balanced federal budget with the passage by the House and Senate of their respective budget resolutions. There is still a long way to go to get from the blueprint just laid out to a final product.

The result is likely to lead to severe cuts in federal aid to local governments effective October 1, 1995, and a fundamental shift of burdens and responsibilities from the federal to state and local governments.

When Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess next week, conferees from the House and Senate will meet to try to work out the very major differences between their respective versions. Such an agreement, if reached, would be subject to final votes in the House and Senate-but not to a Presidential signing or veto. Rather, the final or concurrent budget resolution would trigger a complex path in the Congress over the coming months to transform the blue-print and its assumptions into reality. The end goal is to produce and send to the White House at least 14 key pieces of legislation.


The federal budget process is replete with terms that make understanding the process difficult. From entitlements, to means-tested, to cross-walks, to tax expenditures, to reconciliation, the process itself becomes a maze of Washington terms. But the maze is where the blueprint will be be translated into specific impacts on the budget and taxes of every city and town in the country.

One of the most important terms is reconciliation. This is the process where Congressional committees are instructed to write and adopt specific deficit reduction legislation to meet the budget targets adopted in the budget resolution. Under reconciliation, committees will be required to take action by a certain date to report back legislation making specific changes in federal laws to achieve the spending level set in the budget resolution. …

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