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Senator BYRD. Analysis of the provisions in the pending resolution will reveal that the opening clause establishes the proposal as an amendment to the “joint rule of the Senate and the House of Representatives” contained in section 138 of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.
Senator WHERRY. The only thing that we would have to provide for, then, is that the House at a definite time send the whole bill over to the Senate for its consideration, prior to the end of the session.
Senator Byrd. Yes, analysis of the provision in the pending resolution will reveal that the opening clause establishes the proposal as an amendment to the "Joint Rule of the Senate and the House of Representatives” contained in section 138 of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.
Paragraph (c). (1) would provide for the consolidation into one general appropriation bill all of the so-called regular, annual general appropriation items now contained in the 12 separate regular appropriation bills. Deficiency and supplemental appropriations would have to be taken in additional bills. As this paragraph stands the consolidated appropriation bill would be effective with the current session of Congress. It probably is indicated at this date that this provision should be modified, so I would suggest an amendment to make it effective for the next session of this Congress. The advantage of that, too, would be that having this notice, the budget could probably furnish more detailed information as to these expenditures that are to be made in the present year and in the ensuing year, and so forth,
Paragraph 2 provides for the tabular presentation of appropriation and expenditure items and totals to be enacted in all appropriation legislation including not only the consolidated general bill but also the supplemental and deficiency bills. Of course, it would be our hope that the number of deficiency bills would be reduced; but on the other hand, if some new situation should occur, the supplemental and deficiency bills would come in as usual. The same tabular information would be required in the deficiency and supplemental bills, so that, Mr. Chairman, when Congress votes on a bill they will know exactly the total amount of both appropriations and expenditures they are voting on in each bill, and, the total of all the bills together.
Senator WHERRY. Would the deficiency bill be made a part of the general appropriation bill?
Senator Byrn. No; the deficiency bill would show the previous appropriations that had been made, and the total.
Senator WHERRY. Would it be your idea that a deficiency bill could be passed after the general appropriation bill has been enacted ?
Senator Byrd. Passage of deficiency bills is contemplated in this resolution and there is no provision here to prevent the deficiency bill coming in sometime later. Paragraph 3 provides that amendments changing any figure in the
. table must change all other figures affected, such as totals and related figures within the body of the table.
The effect of paragraph 4 is to insure uniformity in appropriation legislation and assure clear, concise information as to the status of appropriations and expenditures at all stages.
Senator WHERRY. There is just one point on your last observation, about deficiency bills. Of course, if we could finally get the appro
priations confined to the fiscal year, you wouldn't have as much difficulty with deficiency appropriation bills, would you, Senator?
Senator Byrd. That would certainly be the ultimate goal. You should not have as much unless in these recent days—when I first came to Congress at the beginning of my term in 1933, we had very few deficiency bills, and then these emergencies and crises started at home, and now they extend over the whole world.
Senator WHERRY. So that in reality, your bill would provide the machinery for a deficiency appropriation to take care of any emergency?
Senator Byrd. It doesn't prohibit it, and in fact it provides for it.
Senator WHERRY. It doesn't foreclose it, which means you would have the machinery if you had to have it.
Senator BYRD. Yes. I want to mention some of the criticisms that have come to me in conversation with congressional leaders and others.
In response to invitations, congressional leaders and representatives of the Treasury Department and the Bureau of the Budget have submitted informal criticism which is supplied as a part of this statement for the information of the committee. I may say that I have heard little criticism of the one appropriation bill; it is as to the tabular form of information.
It was intended to invite the same sort of criticism from the Comptroller General, but this could not be done prior to the meeting today. However, representatives of the General Accounting Office, the Treasury Department, and the Bureau of the Budget have been invited to be present at this meeting and available in the event the committee desires to request testimony from them.
The criticism which has been received may be summarized as follows:
1. A consolidated bill may tend to increase logrolling: Senator WHERRY. Do you care to go further into that?
Senator Byrd. I don't agree with that, because I think if there is logrolling it would exist just as much in separate bills as in a joint bill. As a matter of fact, this has frequently happened in the Senate in efforts of economy: We will try to amend a certain bill to effect economy, and then someone who is interested in farming, or something, would say that they are not willing to reduce the farmers' bill unless all the other bills are reduced, and that has happened time and again when they have the separate consideration. The other bills in the meantime, many of them, haven't been passed. •
Senator WHERRY. Wouldn't this result, in the general, over-all consideration of an appropriation bill, in a situation where a cut, if there is a cut, would run pretty generally through all the bill?
Senator Byrd. Yes. If we have got to make sacrifices in our public expenditures, it ought to be more or less uniform.
Senator WHERRY. Take the case of a chairman of a subcommittee which, because of logrolling, if you want to call it that, put out a bill that was pretty high. Another subcommittee which had a different attitude, brought in a bill that was correspondingly low, according to the budget estimate. Wouldn't there be a tendency, when you passed the general bill in one sitting, to examine those 12 separate subcommittee reports, and if one subcommittee chairman was keeping faith with the general policy to cut expenditures, then the bill of the one who had gone over the budget estimate might be severely criti
cized ? In other words, it seems to me that instead of increasing logrolling, the final passage would do just the opposite; that if I were trying to do a good job on my committee, I would want to insist on the man with another bill on another subcommittee doing the same thing.
Senator Byrd. I think the chairman has very ably stated that matter.
Senator WHERRY. It seems to me that we could anticipate such a result.
Senator BYRD. Another advantage that the consolidated bill would have is that you could determine the total of the appropriations in comparison to the revenue.
Senator WHERRY. That is right. In other words, if you had to make a cut because the revenue was not as much as your expenditures, there would be a tendency to say, “All right, here is what we think our bill should have been, but if we are going to keep our expenditures in balance with our revenues, we all must do the same thing”; is that right? Senator BYRD. Yes; that would be a more uniform bill. Continuing with the criticisms received:
2. A consolidated bill may increase the tendency to attach legislative riders to the appropriation legislation.
The fear there was that it would be very difficult if not impossible for the President to veto a consolidated appropriation bill, but he may veto an individual bill or a single departmental bill. Of course, personally I would like to see this implemented, if possible, giving the President the item veto.
Senator WHERRY. Is that included in your resolution?
Sanator BYRD. No; it is not. I have always understood it required a constitutional amendment. Senator Vandenberg and I, some years ago, joined in such an amendment. But now the rules, as I understood them under the legislative reorganization bill have been tightened against legislative riders.
Senator WHERRY. Of course, there would be this thing, would there not, Senator Byrd: You have 12 bills on which to put riders on now, and you would only have one on which to put a rider on if you passed a single bill?
Senator BYRD. The argument was that if you passed a consolidated bill the last of June, it would be practically impossible for the President to veto it. But our rules are much more stringent now than they have been. _ There always has been a Senate rule against legislative riders, but I am told by the Treasury and the Budget that they think some plan can be worked out whereby there can be an item veto. But in any event, under the reorganization plan, as you know, the prohibition against legislative riders is stronger than it was before.
3. Time for Senate consideration of appropriation items may be reduced materially if the House action on the consolidated bill is delayed. We have already discussed that, and I think there ought to be some limit.
4. Enactment of expenditure limitations in the appropriation bill would require establishment of additional accounting controls by the Treasury at the cash withdrawal stage.
Now, that gets into a very complicated accounting system, and I am going to ask that the record include a memorandum on the subject from the Treasury and the budget, explaining their position with respect to that.
5. Establishment of expenditure control in the executive branch would create numerous technical difficulties, particularly in field activities, where flexibility is necessary.
Now, that likewise is covered in that memorandum.
Senator BYRD. No; I think that some of the objections of the Treasnry can be met without in any way endangering the bill, and this aniendment which we propose will cover that.
Senator WHERRY. Does that memorandum go into the matter of continuing to pay obligations, where authorization has been made, over a period of years?
Senator Byrd. Yes; that is discussed. The representatives of both the Treasury and the budget are here, if you have any further questions.
6. Strict enforcement of annual expenditure control might prove embarrassing to the Government in connection with payments pursuant to commitments made near the end of the year, but do not clear for actual payment before the year has expired.
These criticisms were solicited by Senator Butler and myself, and the Treasury-Budget Bureau criticism is set forth in a joint memorandum of March 5, 1947, signed by Mr. E. F. Bartelt, Fiscal Assistant Secretary, Treasury Department, and by Mr. T. J. Lawton, Acting Assistant Director, Bureau of the Budget. It is submitted as exhibit D to be made a part of the record, if desired.
Senator WHERRY. That may be incorporated in the record. (Exhibit D is as follows:)
EXECU" IVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington 25, D. C., March 5, 1947. Memorandum for Senator Byrd,
Following our conversation on possible modification of Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 6, the staffs of the Fiscal Service of the Treasury and the Bureau of the Budget devoted considerable time and effort to find some workable method of accomplishing the objectives of subsection (c) (2). After most careful consideration, we are of the opinion that the present method of controlling appropriations on an obligation basis is an effective means of congressional control and that an attempt to superimpose upon this control an additional control of cash expenditures, particularly on the basis of individual appropriations, would add to the confusion and increase administrative expenses. The study which we have made since talking to you indicates that the numerous technical difficulties which would arise in the various departments in an attempt to comply with cash limitations are so far reaching that we would advise against an attempt to superimpose a cash control over the present control of obligations until an opportunity has been afforded carefully to study the many ramifications of the problem.
Meanwhile, we believe that your objectives could be substantially accomplished if provision should be made for each appropriation item to be accompanied by tabulation which would show (1) the estimated cash expenditures from the current appropriation, (2) the estimated cash expenditures from unexpended balances of the related appropriation of the prior fiscal year, and (3) total cash expenditures. We believe that estimates of expenditures from current and prior year appropriations would be fitting and proper in reports on the appropriation bills and in statements explaining proposed amendments. The adoption of such a practice by the Congress would assist materially in enabling the Congress and the public to understand the probable effect of the proposed bills upon the financial outgo in the ensuing year. It would also facilitate comparison of the totals named in the legislative budget resolution with the probable results of related action taken by the Congress.
Congress now limits obligations to be incurred by the Government through its action in fixing the amounts of the various appropriation items. After necessary obligations have been incurred and the goods or services have been received, the payments therefore are made as promptly as possible. Most obligations are paid in the year in which the expense is incurred, but some payments necessarily take place in a later year due to time necessary for delivery of goods to be effected, for contracts to be fulfilled, for bills to be rendered, for pay rolls to be prepared, and for payment vouchers to be examined and certified. This has been recognized by Congress in law which permits an appropriation to remain available for expenditure for 2 years after the close of the fiscal year for which the appropriation was made.
The proposed resolution would require Congress to set a new type of limit, restricting the expenditures to take place within a year, in addition to the usual practice of limiting, obligations through its action on appropriations. It is impossible to predict with complete accuracy many months in advance the time of delivery on every contract and purchase order and the time when bills will be examined, found correct, and paid. A limitation on expenditures might operate in many cases to stop payment until the next July 1 on obligations which had been lawfully incurred, with annoyance to those businessmen with whom the Government deals, loss of discounts, increase of interest on refunds and certain claims, and some impairment of the Government's credit.
Certain technical problems would also arise in enforcing and obtaining current reports on annual expenditure limitations by agency and by appropriation items. Some of these involve: the necessary time lag in getting information on expenditures made through disbursing officers abroad, the present use of the “account of advances” procedure allowed by law for the Army, Navy, and State Department, the handling on noncheck transfers of funds between agencies, the procedure for handling repayments to appropriations and revolving funds, the relationship of disbursing officers of other agencies to the Treasury Department, the existence of special-deposit accounts exempt from the usual warrant procedures and controls of Treasury and the General Accounting Office. Some of these problems might be solved by administrative action; others would probably require legislation in order to accomplish the results intended.
Subsection (c) (1), which proposes the consolidation of all the appropriations into a single bill, would have the advantage of enabling Congress to treat the President's budget as an entity rather than as a collection of departmental appropriation proposals. The single bill would also seem to be in line with the principle of the legislative budget. The fear which we expressed that such a bill might become a ready vehicle for legislative riders seems borne out by the action on the recent deficiency bill in which an attempt was made to foreclose the decision on rent control and sugar rationing in the appropriation bill at the time when legislation was pending on these subjects before the appropriate legislative committees of Congress. Uniess the President were granted some form of item veto power over items and legislative provisions in appropriation bills, he would be placed in a more difficult position than he is at the present time.
We recognize, of course, that there is a difference of opinion as to whether item veto power can be granted through a legislative act or whether it requires a constitutional amendment. Either course would, of course, involve delay. However, the step proposed in the resolution is so important and so far reaching that we believe it should be taken only after a plan covering all of its elements and including all necessary legislative amendments has been developed. A thorough and complete study looking toward improvements in the Government's fiscal and accounting procedures would be a worth-while undertaking.
E. F. BARTELT, Fiscal Assistant Secretary, Treasury Department.
F. J. LAWTON, Acting Assistant Director, Bureau of the Budget. Senator BYRD. With respect to logrolling, it would appear that under the procedure in connection with the tabular form features of the resolution this evil would be reduced. It would be expected that Members interested in an item at the end of the bill would not be inclined to do any trading with Members interested in items in the upper parts of the bill. With an expenditure ceiling controlling, each