Appropriations Update

While timeliness has not been a hallmark of appropriations bills in recent years, this year is proving exceptionally slow. According to budget procedures, appropriations bills are supposed to be finished by June 30 to leave plenty of time to reconcile differences between the House and Senate before the new fiscal year, which starts October 1. But this year, not a single appropriations bill has been sent to the president, and neither house has completed action on all 13 appropriations bills.

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Budget Process Rules the Senate

As noted on these pages many times over the last few months, the Senate is unique in its traditions and rules. One feature that helped earn the Senate the title of the “world’s greatest deliberative body” is its rules that allow for, and even necessitate, policy debates, which are a vital part of the legislative process. These rules push the Senate to work out differences between conflicting legislative proposals and help ensure that the voice of the minority is protected. To extend this principle to tax and spending issues, the Senate has special rules.

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Estate Tax Update

Efforts to make the estate tax permanent continue in Congress. In the midst of all of the other issues facing the nation and the crowded congressional schedule, this shows how much importance conservatives attach to relieving the very wealthiest of Americans from paying taxes when they transfer their wealth.

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Increasing Poverty And More Uninsured In The US

The new U.S. Census Bureau publication “Poverty in the United States: 2001” shows an increase in poverty and a tie for the highest level of income inequality ever (if not a new record high, depending on the measures used). This should not be a surprise given the policies of the administration and the recent economic downturn.

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CBO 10-Year Budget Update Shows $5.6 Trillion Surplus Now Only $1.0 Trillion

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) annual "Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update," released on August 27, reports federal budget deficits through the end of 2005 and a relatively modest 10-year total surplus and has added more fodder to the debate in Washington over who’s to blame for the $5.4 trillion drop in the 10-year surplus forecast since January 2001.

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Freeze The Tax Cuts And Just Say No To More Tax Cuts

It's time to seriously work towards freezing the tax cuts that are scheduled to be phased in 2004, and oppose all new tax cuts. This is one of the most important issues facing us as a nation, and will affect our lives for decades to come.

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We Can No Longer Afford This Wave of Tax Cuts

Given the decade of budget deficits facing the federal government, the fiscal crises being experienced by most of the states, and the need for resources to accomplish the priorities that many Americans identify as much more important than tax cuts, the following organizations came together to urge Congress to act during the coming year to stop the next phase-in of the tax cuts (which will occur in 2004). We urge people to begin a debate about what our national priorities are and whether we can afford more tax cuts, which will primarily only benefit wealthier Americans, as we face the challenges ahead.

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Why Federal Budget Rules Matter

As we often try to remember on these pages, the federal budget, which may superficially appear to be merely a convoluted collection of insignificant numbers, is actually the decoder ring to a better understanding of our country’s real priorities -- since not a lot happens to improve a problem without spending money, the federal budget reveals which problems our country’s policy makers are working to improve. Even less understood and farther removed from our daily lives are the intricacies of federal budget rules. These rules, which govern how the House and Senate must work to craft the country’s annual budget, are in place to ensure that sufficient time is given to debating and developing the a course for tackling the nation’s problems.

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About the Senate Budget Process Rules

One reason the nonprofit community was able to stop permanent repeal of the estate tax is that Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) needed 60 votes in the Senate, rather than just a "simple majority" of 51 votes. With the expiration of key Senate budget rules on October 1, however, the Senate may lose this key feature that helped earn it the title of "the world’s greatest deliberative body."

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Social Investment Initiative

For more information on the SII, please contact our Federal Budget project

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