Concept_Budget

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Last Year Was the Only Where Congress Did Not Vote On a Budget

Apr 1, 2019 | Budgets & Projections

Last year was a historically bad year for the Congressional budget process. Since 1976, it was the first time that neither the Senate or House voted on a budget. And the House has always done a budget in a non-election year like this one.

Since the modern budget process started in 1976, there have only been two years when neither chamber approved a budget: 2010, during consideration of the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, and last year, during consideration of the budget for FY 2019. In that year, neither the House nor Senate approved a budget resolution. But even in 2010, several budget resolutions were voted down in the Senate, and the Senate Budget Committee had proposed a budget.

The deadline for Congress to complete action on a budget is April 15, and Congress has only hit that mark four times (plus an additional two times when the deadline was May 15 before 1986).

More often, Congress has treated the budget deadline as a deadline for one chamber or the other to pass a budget. Out of the 44 years between FY 1976 and 2019, the House has failed to vote on a budget by the deadline 14 times and the Senate 19 times.

Metric Number of Years Since 1976
Years Congress Has Met Its Budget Deadline 6*
Times the House Has Failed to Pass a Budget by Deadline 14
Times the Senate Has Failed to Pass a Budget by Deadline 19
Years Without a House Budget 2
Years Without a Senate Budget 6
Years Without a Concurrent Budget Resolution 10
Years Neither Chamber Approved a Budget 2
Years Neither Budget Committee Approved a Budget 0
Years Neither Chamber Voted On a Budget 1

 Source: Based on tables from the Congressional Research Service (alternate link). Based on the fiscal years for which the budget was being done, not the year of the vote. *The deadline to complete action on the budget resolution is currently April 15, but it was May 15 prior to 1986.

And in non-election years like this one, Congress has been much more likely to take action on the budget resolution. Of the six years Congress met its deadline, four of those years were in non-election years. Of the 14 years that the House did not consider a budget by the deadline, 11 were in election years and only 3 in non-election years. The House has never failed to pass a budget in a non-election year.

Metric Number of Non-Election Fiscal Years Since 1976
Years Congress Has Met Its Budget Deadline 4*
Times the House Has Failed to Pass a Budget by Deadline 3
Times the Senate Has Failed to Pass a Budget by Deadline 7
Years Without a House Budget 0
Years Without a Senate Budget 2
Years Without a Concurrent Budget Resolution 2
Years Neither Chamber Approved a Budget 0
Years Neither Budget Committee Approved a Budget 0
Years Neither Chamber Voted On a Budget 0

Source: Based on tables from the Congressional Research Service (alternate link). Based on the fiscal years for which the budget was being done, not the year of the vote. *The deadline to complete action on the budget resolution is currently April 15, but it was May 15 prior to 1986.

This year, the Senate Budget Committee has approved a budget, which has not yet been considered by the full Senate, and the House Budget Committee has not yet proposed a budget. We have proposed several possible ways Congress could try to improve the budget process. This year we call on Congress to complete a budget, asking every Member of Congress to either support a budget or put forth their own plan for fiscal sustainability.