Study: Congress Backs Fewer Budget-Increase Bills, but Still Lacks Budget-Cut Will

Jun 07, 2010, 12:59 ET from National Taxpayers Union

ALEXANDRIA, VA., June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Congress's trend of proposing more federal spending-increase legislation appears to have slowed, but it's unclear whether or when spending-cut bills will more evenly balance the budget process. This is just one finding of the latest BillTally study from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF).


Since 1991, BillTally has computed a "net annual agenda cost" based on each Senator's or Representative's individual sponsorship of legislation (rather than votes). All costs for bills are obtained from third-party sources or are calculated from neutral data. Highlights include:

  • In the 111th Congress's First Session (2009), Representatives authored nearly 16 spending-increase bills for every cut – narrower than the 22 to 1 ratio for the same period in the 110th Congress. The Senate had an 18 to 1 increase-to-cut ratio – down from 30 to 1 in the last Congress. The 104th Congress achieved the most balanced work product, with a ratio of less than 2 to 1.
  • A total of 119 House and 24 Senate lawmakers had "net agendas" (all bills they supported taken together) that would reduce spending – more than twice as many as in the last Congress. This is the highest number of "net cutters" in 15 years.
  • However, the ranks of lawmakers with agendas greater than $100 billion grew from 107 to 128 in the House, and tripled to 24 in the Senate.
  • The typical House Democrat proposed a net spending agenda of $500.2 billion – less than the $547 billion he or she backed in the 110th Congress. The typical House Republican had an agenda that would reduce spending by $45.3 billion – the first "net-cutting" average for the House GOP in over a decade.
  • In the Senate, the average Democrat backed legislation that would increase outlays by $133.7 billion – a sharp rise from the previous Congress ($59.2 billion). Republicans, on average, posted a $50.9 billion agenda – the highest ever recorded.

NTUF BillTally Project Director Demian Brady compared the federal deficit to the oil leak in the Gulf, because both have devastating consequences. He noted, "As BillTally indicates, lawmakers have begun looking for more ways to control the leaking budget. Are they acting in time to stave off a fiscal disaster? Taxpayers are left to wonder."

NTUF is the research arm of the National Taxpayers Union, a nonpartisan citizen group. Note: BillTally is available at

SOURCE National Taxpayers Union