Both chambers of Congress adopted budget resolutions for fiscal year (FY) 2009 on Thursday, 13 March 2008. The resolution is important because it establishes spending levels and spending rules under which the appropriations process will take place. For an overview of this process, please visit:

The Senate resolution (S Con Res 70), adopted by a 51-44 vote after a 15 hour marathon session, would allow $21.8 billion more than the $3.1 trillion proposed in the President’s FY 2009 budget. Prior to the final vote, the Senate rejected a proposal by Senator DeMint (R-SC) to impose a one-year moratorium on earmarks; this amendment had received a significant amount of attention in recent days because it was endorsed by all three presidential candidates.

The House budget resolution (H Con Res 312), adopted by a 212-207 vote, would increase the discretionary spending limit for appropriations bills by $25.4 billion more than proposed by President Bush. The House budget resolution would continue to enforce a “pay-go” system (pay as you go), which means that any new project or program to be funded will require offsetting its cost through reductions to other programs or through the establishment of new revenue sources.

Both budget resolutions would balance the federal budget by 2012, assuming at least some or all of President Bush’s tax cuts would expire in 2010 and that the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would affect more taxpayers after next year. Both chambers did assume a one-year “patch” for the AMT that would prevent it from affecting an estimated 20 million more households in the coming year.

Additionally, the House budget resolution includes a Sense of the House on innovation and the America COMPETES Act that states, “The House should provide sufficient funding so that our nation may continue to be the world leader in education, innovation, and economic growth.” It notes that the budget resolution “will keep us on a path toward doubling funding for the National Science Foundation, basic research in the physical sciences, and collaborative research partnerships, and toward achieving energy independence through the development of clean and sustainable alternative energy technologies.”

Now, the House and Senate must agree to a final budget resolution; however, in the last three election years (2002, 2004, and 2006), the two chambers were unable to reach a final agreement. Leaders on both sides of the Capitol have expressed hope that this will not be the case in 2008.


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