Jun 06 2012
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, sent the following letter today to Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad about the outlay levels filed as required by the Budget Control Act. Although that law directs outlay aggregates be set at the CBO March 2012 baseline level, Conrad used figures apparently derived from President Obama’s unanimously rejected budget, which will result in $14 billion higher spending and debt in fiscal year 2013.
Text of Sessions’ letter follows:
Dear Chairman Conrad:
Thank you for your letter regarding my request that you re-file the allocations and aggregate spending levels for fiscal year 2013 to make them consistent with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) March 2012 baseline, as required by the Budget Control Act (BCA).
Your letter acknowledges that the fiscal year 2013 outlay allocation you filed for Senate appropriations is $14 billion higher than the levels in the CBO baseline. This will produce an additional $14 billion in greater debt next year than if the allocations were set to the baseline levels.
In your letter, you explain that you wrote the BCA provision that requires the use of the CBO baseline and assert that you have the flexibility to choose any outlay figure you wish for fiscal year 2013. (The outlays you filed were derived from the President’s unanimously rejected budget.) Because this complex legislation was rushed to passage under threat of a fiscal panic, it is possible Senators did not fully understand all its implications. But a plain reading of the language in the BCA directs that allocations for Senate appropriations be derived from the CBO baseline. Otherwise, under your interpretation, outlays could be increased any amount. You increased them by $14 billion; what would prevent you from increasing them by $20 billion or $50 billion?
If the Senate purposefully elevates the spending level in the BCA $14 billion above the baseline, it would represent, in my view, an abrogation of the commitment made to the American people less than a year ago as a condition for raising the debt ceiling. Not only is the Senate majority unwilling to produce a budget plan as the law requires, but it appears the majority is also unwilling to abide by even the modest spending cuts agreed to last August. This is how a country goes broke.
If the allocations are not lowered to match the baseline, I will consider other options to attempt their correction.
Very truly yours,
[NOTE: To view Sessions’ initial floor speech announcing the finding, please click here.]