Fiscal 2008 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 99)/Final vote on a resolution to set spending and revenue targets for the next five years
house Roll Call 212 Mar 29, 2007
This was a final vote on a $3 trillion fiscal 2008 budget resolution, which would set spending and revenue targets for the next five years.
By law, Congress is supposed to pass a budget resolution every year by April 15. The Republican-led Congress failed to do so for the fiscal 2007 year, leading to what many in both parties acknowledged was a breakdown in the appropriations process. Even though the budget resolution does not have the force of law, it establishes broad financial guidelines for the upcoming debates on spending and thus serves as an agreed-upon framework for how Congress considers tax and spending decisions. The new Democratic majority in Congress sought to pass a fiscal 2008 budget resolution as a way to contrast its leadership style with its Republican predecessors.
The budget resolution written by the Democratic majority included a $1.1 trillion cap on discretionary spending, about $25 billion more than President Bush sought and $7 billion more than the budget resolution adopted by the Senate. The House Democrat's budget proposal - in keeping with pay-as-you-go budget rules -- was sufficient to allow inflationary increases in most programs as well as significant increases in education spending and veterans' benefits.
In the words of Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), the Democratic budget represents "the first time in a very long time that Congress has before it a budget that is fiscally responsible and in line with the needs of the American people."
In the past six years the country has gone from having a projected $5.6 trillion surplus to looking at a $9 trillion dollar deficit, and growing, Sutton said, adding that the Republican stewardship of the budget process in past years "goes far beyond having been drunk at the wheel. Our predecessors in the majority not only crashed the car into a ditch, they accelerated after landing there, allowing mud to cave in on top of it."
Republicans such as Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said the budget resolution assumed increased taxes and didn't deal with the upcoming retirement of 77 million baby boomers, which will put an enormous strain on an already stretched entitlement system.
"This Democrat budget, which is balanced on the backs of everyday taxpayers, will be used to finance bloated new government spending that my colleague just spoke about that will be well above the rate of inflation through 2012 while ignoring the brewing entitlement crisis," Sessions said.
Although Republicans argued that the budget resolution assumes "the largest tax increase in American history," in the words of Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), it actually assumes the same revenue as current law, under which the 2001 and 2003 income, estate and dividend tax cuts are set to expire after 2010.
"This budget does not raise a penny in new taxes, not one," said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). Moreover, Hoyer said, the Republican alternative budget - which was put forth unsuccessfully as an amendment (see Roll Call 211) - proposed deep spending cuts that Republicans never sought to enact when they were in the majority.
Most of the Democratic opposition to the budget resolution came from members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats, and most of them waited to cast their votes until it was clear the measure had sufficient votes to pass. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) voted against the resolution because of its assumption of $195 billion in war funding for fiscal 2008 and 2009. "We are falling right into line with the president's plan for the war and his requests to fund it," he said in a statement released by his office. "The American people want the war to end now, not in 2008, and not in 2009."
By a vote of 216-210, Democrats eked out a narrow but significant victory in passing the fiscal 2008 budget resolution that projected a $153 billion surplus in 2012 by strictly adhering to pay-as-you-go spending rules and putting off divisive decisions on how to deal with tax cuts set to expire in 2010 and the expected growth in entitlement programs as the baby-boom generation retires. (Also known as PAYGO, pay-as-you-go spending rules require that any new programs or tax cuts be offset in other parts of the federal budget by revenue increases or spending cuts.)
Twelve Democrats joined all 198 Republicans present in voting against it. The measure then headed to a conference committee with the Senate, where Democrats were hoping for swift passage so they can move on to the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills.
MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE RICH OR POWERFUL — Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs
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