Enzi: Congress Has Spent Almost $1 Trillion Above Budget Caps Since 2011

WASHINGTON D.C. – During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on cap-adjusted spending under the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) noted that cap adjustments have allowed Congress to spend almost $1 trillion beyond the levels set forth in the law. Enzi said these cap adjustments have created an additional path to increase spending. 

“While a primary objective of the Budget Control Act was deficit reduction, the law also allows for several cap adjustments to increase spending, which have grown in number in successive spending deals,” said Chairman Enzi.

The BCA allows for several cap adjustments to increase spending for specified purposes, including emergencies, disasters, program integrity, and overseas contingency operations without triggering a breach of the BCA’s statutory spending limits.  Enzi noted that the largest cap adjustment utilized since enactment of the BCA is known as OCO, or overseas contingency operations. Congress provides tens of billions of dollars through OCO annually, which is not subject to the BCA spending cap. Since FY 2012, this has resulted in an additional $650 billion in defense spending not subject to the BCA’s discretionary caps. Another heavily utilized cap adjustment is the emergency designation, which has been provided nearly $180 billion since FY 2012.

“Cap adjustments are often necessary, but I believe Congress must be diligent in providing oversight of their use,” Chairman Enzi said.  “If Congress put as much effort into trying to abide by the caps as they do trying to evade and mitigate them, our nation’s fiscal outlook would be less severe.  This is why it is important for Congress to thoroughly review all federal spending – both mandatory and discretionary.”

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