This vote was on an amendment by Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, that would extend for an additional two years the Senate rule that prevents any legislation from exceeding certain spending levels laid out in the budget resolution. The amendment was offered was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
The budget resolution currently has a prohibition against any legislation that exceeds the funding caps set in the fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010 budget resolution. Crapo’s amendment would extend that prohibition through fiscal 2012.
Crapo said his amendment is simple but profound, and would have the effect of requiring Congress to follow its own budgets, which typically are only binding for the year in which they are considered, but estimate spending for between five and 10 years in the future.
“In other words, if we adopt this budget, we will follow it. And I am only saying for 3 years. I am not even saying for the full 5-year window the Budget Committee has put forward or for the full 10-year window the President has put forward,” Crapo said. “Why is this so important? Sometimes I jokingly say that during the time I have served in Congress, I have never made it to year 2 of any budget because every time we do a budget--whether it is a 10-year budget or a 5-year budget--we always implement the first year of that budget and then next year, when we come back, we seem to forget about what the budget projections were and what our promises to the American public were, and we start all over again.”
Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said it’s true that the budget resolution typically estimates spending levels out for many years (often called “outyear estimates”), but that they traditionally aren’t binding because Congress does a new budget resolution each year.
“We are going to be back doing another budget resolution next year, so, frankly, having outyear caps doesn't mean very much. What matters are the caps for this year, and the caps we have in this budget pertain to this year,” Conrad said.
By a vote of 43-55, the amendment was rejected. All but two Democrats voted against the amendment. Every Republican present voted for the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have extended mandatory spending caps through fiscal 2012.