Text: S.Con.Res.21 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Information (Except Text)

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Referral Instructions Senate (03/07/2001)

[Congressional Bills 107th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. Con. Res. 21 Referral Instructions Senate (RIS)]

  1st Session
S. CON. RES. 21

  To express the sense of Congress regarding the use of a legislative 
 ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism to link long-term Federal budget 
           surplus reductions with actual budgetary outcomes.



                             March 7, 2001

    Ms. Snowe (for herself, Mr. Bayh, Mr. Chafee, Ms. Landrieu, Ms. 
Collins, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Jeffords, Mr. Torricelli, Mr. Specter, Mr. 
  Carper, and Ms. Stabenow) pursuant to the order of August 4, 1977, 
   submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred 
jointly to the Committees on the Budget and Governmental Affairs, with 
  instructions that if one committee have thirty days to report or be 


                         CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

  To express the sense of Congress regarding the use of a legislative 
 ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism to link long-term Federal budget 
           surplus reductions with actual budgetary outcomes.

Whereas the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected that the Federal 
        unified budget surplus over the 10-year period from fiscal year 2002 to 
        fiscal year 2011 will total $5,610,000,000,000;
Whereas the projected Federal on-budget surplus over the same period of time is 
        projected to be $3,122,000,000,000, which includes a surplus for the 
        medicare program in the Federal Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund of 
Whereas the projected surplus provides Congress with an opportunity to address a 
        variety of pressing national needs, including Federal debt reduction, 
        tax relief, and increased investment in the shared priorities of the 
        American people, such as national defense, science, health, education, 
        retirement security, and other areas;
Whereas although CBO projections properly serve as the basis for budgetary 
        policies in Congress, actual economic and fiscal outcomes may differ 
        substantially from projections;
Whereas for example, as CBO indicates in its January 2001 budget update, if the 
        future record is like the past, there is about a 50 percent chance that 
        errors in the assumptions about economic and technical factors will 
        cause CBO's projection of the annual surplus 5 years ahead to miss the 
        actual outcome by more than 1.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, 
        with a resulting difference in the surplus estimate of $245,000,000,000 
        in the fifth year alone;
Whereas where appropriate, long-term changes to tax and spending policy that are 
        predicated on the existence of significant budget surpluses should be 
        linked to actual fiscal performance, such as meeting specified debt 
        reduction or on-budget surplus targets, to ensure the Federal Government 
        does not incur on-budget deficits or increase the publicly-held debt;
Whereas during his testimony before the Senate Budget Committee on January 25, 
        2001, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan stated, ``In recognition 
        of the uncertainties in the economic and budget outlook, it is important 
        that any long-term tax plan, or spending initiative for that matter, be 
        phased in. Conceivably, it could include provisions that, in some way, 
        would limit surplus-reducing actions if specified targets for the budget 
        surplus and Federal debt were not satisfied. Only if the probability was 
        very low that prospective tax cuts or new outlay initiatives would send 
        the on-budget accounts into deficit, would unconditional initiatives 
        appear prudent'', and he reiterated this testimony before the Senate 
        Banking Committee on February 13, 2001; and
Whereas in light of Chairman Greenspan's testimony and the uncertainty of 
        surplus projections, while Members of Congress agree that the resources 
        are available to address many pressing national needs in the 107th 
        Congress, Congress should exercise great caution and not pass tax cuts 
        or spending increases that are so large that they will necessitate 
        future tax increases or significant spending cuts if anticipated budget 
        surpluses fail to materialize: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), 
That it is the sense of Congress that--
            (1) with respect to any long-term, Federal surplus-reducing 
        actions adopted by the 107th Congress pursuant to the 
        Congressional Budget Office's projected surpluses, such actions 
        shall include a legislative ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism 
        that links the phase-in of such actions to actual budgetary 
        outcomes over the next 10 fiscal years;
            (2) this legislative ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism 
        shall outline specific legislative or automatic action that 
        shall be taken should specified levels of Federal debt 
        reduction or on-budget surpluses not be realized, in order to 
        maintain fiscal discipline and continue the reduction of our 
        national debt;
            (3) the legislative ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism 
        shall be applied prospectively and not repeal or cancel any 
        previously implemented portion of a surplus-reducing action;
            (4) enactment of a legislative ``trigger'' or ``safety'' 
        mechanism shall not prevent Congress from passing other 
        legislation affecting the level of Federal revenues or spending 
        should future economic performance dictate such action; and
            (5) this legislative ``trigger'' or ``safety'' mechanism 
        will ensure fiscal discipline because it restrains both 
        Government spending and tax cuts, by requiring that the budget 
        is balanced and that specified debt reduction targets are met.