The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate’s “Byrd Rule”

Reconciliation is a procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress implements budget resolution policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs. The principal focus in the reconciliation process has been deficit reduction, but in some years reconciliation has involved revenue reduction generally and spending increases in selected areas. Although reconciliation is an optional procedure, it has been used most years since its first use by the House and Senate in 1980 (20 reconciliation bills have been enacted into law and four have been vetoed).

During the first several years’ experience with reconciliation, the legislation contained many provisions that were extraneous to the purpose of implementing budget resolution policies. The reconciliation submissions of committees included such things as provisions that had no budgetary effect, that increased spending or reduced revenues when the reconciliation instructions called for reduced spending or increased revenues, or that violated another committee’s jurisdiction.

In 1985 and 1986, the Senate adopted the Byrd rule (named after its principal sponsor, Senator Robert C. Byrd) on a temporary basis as a means of curbing these practices. The Byrd rule was extended and modified several times over the years. In 1990, the Byrd rule was incorporated into the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 as Section 313 and made permanent (2 U.S.C. 644).

A Senator opposed to the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation may offer an amendment (or a motion to recommit the measure with instructions) that strikes such provisions from the legislation, or, under the Byrd rule, a Senator may raise a point of order against such matter. In general, a point of order authorized under the Byrd rule may be raised in order to strike extraneous matter already in the bill as reported or discharged (or in the conference report), or to prevent the incorporation of extraneous matter through the adoption of amendments or motions. A motion to waive the Byrd rule, or to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the chair on a point of order raised under the Byrd rule, requires the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the membership (60 Senators if no seats are vacant).

The Byrd rule provides six definitions of what constitutes extraneous matter for purposes of the rule (and several exceptions thereto), but the term is generally described as covering provisions unrelated to achieving the goals of the reconciliation instructions.

The Byrd rule has been in effect during Senate consideration of 19 reconciliation measures from late 1985 through the present. Actions were taken under the Byrd rule in the case of 15 of the 19 measures. In total, 70 points of order and 57 waiver motions were considered and disposed of under the rule, largely in a manner that favored those who opposed the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation (60 points of order were sustained, in whole or in part, and 48 waiver motions were rejected).

This report has been updated to include the consideration of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3762, 114th Congress).

The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate's "Byrd Rule"

November 22, 2016 (RL30862)
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Contents

Summary

Reconciliation is a procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress implements budget resolution policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs. The principal focus in the reconciliation process has been deficit reduction, but in some years reconciliation has involved revenue reduction generally and spending increases in selected areas. Although reconciliation is an optional procedure, it has been used most years since its first use by the House and Senate in 1980 (20 reconciliation bills have been enacted into law and four have been vetoed).

During the first several years' experience with reconciliation, the legislation contained many provisions that were extraneous to the purpose of implementing budget resolution policies. The reconciliation submissions of committees included such things as provisions that had no budgetary effect, that increased spending or reduced revenues when the reconciliation instructions called for reduced spending or increased revenues, or that violated another committee's jurisdiction.

In 1985 and 1986, the Senate adopted the Byrd rule (named after its principal sponsor, Senator Robert C. Byrd) on a temporary basis as a means of curbing these practices. The Byrd rule was extended and modified several times over the years. In 1990, the Byrd rule was incorporated into the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 as Section 313 and made permanent (2 U.S.C. 644).

A Senator opposed to the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation may offer an amendment (or a motion to recommit the measure with instructions) that strikes such provisions from the legislation, or, under the Byrd rule, a Senator may raise a point of order against such matter. In general, a point of order authorized under the Byrd rule may be raised in order to strike extraneous matter already in the bill as reported or discharged (or in the conference report), or to prevent the incorporation of extraneous matter through the adoption of amendments or motions. A motion to waive the Byrd rule, or to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the chair on a point of order raised under the Byrd rule, requires the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the membership (60 Senators if no seats are vacant).

The Byrd rule provides six definitions of what constitutes extraneous matter for purposes of the rule (and several exceptions thereto), but the term is generally described as covering provisions unrelated to achieving the goals of the reconciliation instructions.

The Byrd rule has been in effect during Senate consideration of 19 reconciliation measures from late 1985 through the present. Actions were taken under the Byrd rule in the case of 15 of the 19 measures. In total, 70 points of order and 57 waiver motions were considered and disposed of under the rule, largely in a manner that favored those who opposed the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation (60 points of order were sustained, in whole or in part, and 48 waiver motions were rejected).

This report has been updated to include the consideration of the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3762, 114th Congress).


The Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate's "Byrd Rule"

Introduction

Reconciliation is a process established under Section 310 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-344, as amended).1 The purpose of reconciliation is to change substantive law so that revenue and mandatory spending levels are brought into line with budget resolution policies. Reconciliation generally has been used to reduce the deficit through spending reductions or revenue increases, or a combination of the two. In some years, however, the reconciliation process also encompassed revenue reduction generally and spending increases in selected program areas.

Reconciliation is a two-step process. Under the first step, reconciliation instructions are included in the budget resolution, directing one or more committees in each House to develop legislation that changes spending or revenues (or both) by the amounts specified in the budget resolution. If more than one committee in each House is given instructions, each instructed committee submits reconciliation legislation to its respective Budget Committee, which incorporates all submissions, without any substantive revision, into a single, omnibus budget reconciliation measure. Reconciliation procedures during a session usually have applied to multiple committees and involved omnibus legislation.

Under the second step, the omnibus budget reconciliation measure is considered in the House and Senate under expedited procedures (for example, debate time in the Senate on a reconciliation measure is limited to 20 hours and amendments must be germane). The process culminates with enactment of the measure, thus putting the policies of the budget resolution into effect.

Reconciliation, which was first used by the House and Senate in 1980, is an optional procedure, but it has been used in most years. Over the period covering from 1980 to the present, 20 reconciliation bills have been enacted into law and four have been vetoed.2

During the first several years' experience with reconciliation, the legislation contained many provisions that were extraneous to the purpose of reducing the deficit. The reconciliation submissions of committees included such things as provisions that had no budgetary effect, that increased spending or reduced revenues, or that violated another committee's jurisdiction.

In 1985 and 1986, the Senate adopted the Byrd rule (named after its principal sponsor, Senator Robert C. Byrd) as a means of curbing these practices. Initially, the rule consisted of two components, involving a provision in a reconciliation act and a Senate resolution. The Byrd rule has been modified several times over the years.

The purpose of this report is to briefly recount the legislative history of the Byrd rule, summarize its current features, and describe its implementation from its inception through the present.

Legislative History of the Byrd Rule

During the first five years that the Byrd rule was in effect, from late 1985 until late 1990, it consisted of two separate components—(1) a provision in statute applying to initial Senate consideration of reconciliation measures, and (2) a Senate resolution extending application of portions of the statutory provision to conference reports and amendments between the two houses. Several modifications were made to the Byrd rule in 1986 and 1987, including extending its expiration date from January 2, 1987, to January 2, 1988, and then to September 30, 1992, but the two separate components of the rule were preserved. In 1990, these components were merged together and made permanent when they were incorporated into the Congressional Budget Act (CBA) of 1974 as Section 313. There have been no further changes in the Byrd rule since 1990.

The Byrd rule originated on October 24, 1985, when Senator Robert C. Byrd, on behalf of himself and others, offered Amendment No. 878 (as modified) to S. 1730, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985.3 The Senate adopted the amendment by a vote of 96-0.4 In this form, the Byrd rule applied to initial Senate consideration of reconciliation measures.

Senator Byrd explained that the basic purposes of the amendment were to protect the effectiveness of the reconciliation process (by excluding extraneous matter that often provoked controversy without aiding deficit reduction efforts) and to preserve the deliberative character of the Senate (by excluding from consideration under expedited procedures legislative matters not central to deficit reduction that should be debated under regular procedures). He opened his remarks by stating

we are in the process now of seeing ... the Pandora's box which has been opened to the abuse of the reconciliation process. That process was never meant to be used as it is being used. There are 122 items in the reconciliation bill that are extraneous. Henceforth, if the majority on a committee should wish to include in reconciliation recommendations to the Budget Committee any measure, no matter how controversial, it can be brought to the Senate under an ironclad built-in time agreement that limits debate, plus time on amendments and motions, to no more than 20 hours.

It was never foreseen that the Budget Reform Act would be used in that way. So if the budget reform process is going to be preserved, and more importantly if we are going to preserve the deliberative process in this U.S. Senate—which is the outstanding, unique element with respect to the U.S. Senate, action must be taken now to stop this abuse of the budget process.5

The Byrd amendment was included in modified form in COBRA of 1985 (P.L. 99-272), which was not enacted into law until April 7, 1986, as Section 20001 (100 Stat. 390-391). The Byrd rule, in this form, thus became effective on April 7. As originally framed, the Byrd rule was set to expire on January 2, 1987.

Table 1. Laws and Resolutions
Establishing the Byrd Rule

P.L. 99-272, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, Section 2001 (100 Stat. 390-391), April 7, 1986.

S.Res. 286 (99th Congress, 1st Session), December 19, 1985.

S.Res. 509 (99th Congress, 2nd Session), October 16, 1986.

P.L. 99-509, Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, Section 7006 (100 Stat. 1949-1950), October 21, 1986.

P.L. 100-119, Increasing the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt, Section 205 (101 Stat. 784-785), September 29, 1987.

P.L. 101-508, Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, Section 13214 (104 Stat. 1388-621 through 1388-623), November 5, 1990.

P.L. 105-33, Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Section 10113(b)(1) (111 Stat. 688), August 5, 1997.

Over the years, the Senate has expanded and revised the Byrd rule through the adoption of two resolutions and the inclusion of provisions in four laws. Table 1 lists the laws and resolutions that have established and revised the Byrd rule.

On December 19, 1985, the Senate adopted by voice vote a resolution (S.Res. 286), sponsored by Senator Alan Simpson and others, that extended the application of portions of the statutory provision to conference reports and amendments between the two houses. Because the enactment of COBRA of 1985 was delayed until early 1986, the portion of the Byrd rule dealing with conference reports became effective first. The provisions of S.Res. 286 were set to expire on the same date as the provision in COBRA of 1985 (January 2, 1987).

In the following year, the Senate was involved in two actions affecting the Byrd rule. First, the Senate adopted S.Res. 509 by voice vote on October 16, 1986. The measure, offered by Senator Alan Simpson and others, modified S.Res. 286 in a technical fashion. Second, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 was enacted into law, as P.L. 99-509, on October 21, 1986. Section 7006 of the law made several minor changes in the Byrd rule and extended its expiration date by one year—until January 2, 1988.

Further changes in the Byrd rule were made in 1987. These changes were included in a measure increasing the statutory limit on the public debt, modifying procedures under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, and making other budget process changes (P.L. 100-119, signed into law on September 29; see Title II (Budget Process Reform)). Section 205 of the law added an item to the list of definitions of extraneous matter in the Byrd rule and extended its expiration until September 30, 1992.

In 1990, Congress and the President agreed to further modifications of the budget process by enacting the Budget Enforcement Act (BEA) of 1990 (Title XIII of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990). Section 13214 of the law made significant revisions to the Byrd rule and incorporated it (as permanent law) into the CBA of 1974 as Section 313 (2 U.S.C. 644).

Finally, the Budget Enforcement Act of 1997 (Title X of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997) made minor technical changes in Section 313 of the CBA of 1974 to correct drafting problems with the BEA of 1990.

Current Features of the Byrd Rule

A Senator opposed to the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation has two principal options for dealing with the problem. First, a Senator may offer an amendment (or a motion to recommit the measure with instructions) that strikes such provisions from the legislation. Second, under the Byrd rule, a Senator may raise a point of order against extraneous matter.

The Byrd rule is a relatively complex rule6 that applies to two types of reconciliation measures considered pursuant to Section 310 of the CBA of 1974—reconciliation bills and reconciliation resolutions.7 (A reconciliation resolution could be used to make changes in legislation that had passed the House and Senate but had not yet been enrolled and sent to the President. The practice of the House and Senate has been to consider only reconciliation bills.)

In general, a point of order authorized under the Byrd rule may be raised in order to strike extraneous matter already in the bill as reported or discharged (or in the conference report), or to prevent the incorporation of extraneous matter through the adoption of amendments or motions. A point of order may be raised against a single provision or two or more provisions (as designated by title or section number, or by page and line number), and may be raised against a single amendment or two or more amendments. The chair may sustain a point of order as to all of the provisions (or amendments) or only some of them. Once material has been struck from reconciliation legislation under the Byrd rule, it may not be offered again as an amendment.

A motion to waive the Byrd rule, or to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the chair on a point of order raised under the Byrd rule, requires the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the membership (60 Senators if no seats are vacant).8 A single waiver motion can (1) apply to the Byrd rule as well as other provisions of the Congressional Budget Act; (2) involve multiple as well as single provisions or amendments; (3) extend (for specified language) through consideration of the conference report as well as initial consideration of the measure or amendment; and (4) be made prior to the raising of a point of order, thus making the point of order moot.

When a reconciliation measure, or a conference report thereon, is considered, the Senate Budget Committee must submit for the record a list of potentially extraneous matter included therein.9 This list is advisory, however, and does not bind the chair in ruling on points of order. In practice, the list has been inserted into the Congressional Record in some years but not in others. Further, in some years, the chairman and the ranking minority member of the committee each have submitted their own lists.10 Finally, in some cases the list merely has stated that no extraneous matter was included in the measure.

Determinations of budgetary levels for purposes of enforcing the Byrd rule are made by the Senate Budget Committee.

Definitions of Extraneous Matter

Subsection (b)(1) of the Byrd rule provides definitions of what constitutes extraneous matter for purposes of the rule. The Senate Budget Committee, in its report on the budget resolution for FY1994, noted "'Extraneous' is a term of art. Broadly speaking, the rule prohibits inclusion in reconciliation of matter unrelated to the deficit reduction goals of the reconciliation process."11

A provision is considered to be extraneous if it falls under one or more of the following six definitions:

  • it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues or a change in the terms and conditions under which outlays are made or revenues are collected;
  • it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
  • it is outside of the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
  • it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
  • it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond the "budget window" covered by the reconciliation measure;12 and
  • it recommends changes in Social Security.

The last definition complements a ban in Section 310(g) of the CBA of 1974 against considering any reconciliation legislation that contains recommendations pertaining to the Social Security. For purposes of these provisions, Social Security is considered to include the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program established under Title II of the Social Security Act; it does not include Medicare or other programs established as part of that act.

Exceptions to the Definition of Extraneous Matter

Subsection (b)(2) of the Byrd rule provides that a Senate-originated provision that does not produce a change in outlays or revenues shall not be considered extraneous if the chairman and ranking minority members of the Budget Committee and the committee reporting the provision certify that—

  • the provision mitigates direct effects clearly attributable to a provision changing outlays or revenues and both provisions together produce a net reduction in the deficit; or
  • the provision will (or is likely to) reduce outlays or increase revenues: (1) in one or more fiscal years beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure; (2) on the basis of new regulations, court rulings on pending legislation, or relationships between economic indices and stipulated statutory triggers pertaining to the provision; or (3) but reliable estimates cannot be made due to insufficient data.

Additionally, under subsection (b)(1)(A), a provision that does not change outlays or revenues in the net, but which includes outlay decreases or revenue increases that exactly offset outlay increases or revenue decreases, is not considered to be extraneous.

The full text of the Byrd rule in its current form is provided in the Appendix.

Implementation of the Byrd Rule

Congress and the President considered 24 omnibus reconciliation measures (as shown in Table 2) between calendar year 1980, when the reconciliation process was first used, and the present.13 As stated previously, 20 of these measures were enacted into law and four were vetoed.

The Byrd rule has been in effect during the consideration of the last 19 of these 24 measures, covering from the end of calendar year 1985 through 2015. The Byrd rule had not been established when the first five reconciliation bills were considered. As discussed in more detail below, actions were taken under the Byrd rule during the consideration of 15 of the 19 reconciliation measures.

The Byrd rule was only partially in effect during the consideration of the first of these 19 reconciliation bills. During consideration of that bill, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985, the Byrd rule applied to the consideration of an exchange of amendments between the two chambers, but not to initial consideration of the bill.

The 19 reconciliation bills considered and passed by the House and Senate during this period stemmed from reconciliation directives in 17 different budget resolutions. Two budget resolutions, in 1997 (for FY1998) and 2005 (for FY2006), led to the enactment of two reconciliation measures in each year.

Table 2. Budget Reconciliation Measures Enacted Into Law or Vetoed: 1980-2016

Reconciliation Act

Public Law Number

Statutes-at-Large Citation

Date Enacted
(or Vetoed)

Byrd Rule Not in Effect

1

Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980

P.L. 96-499

94 Stat. 2599-2695

12-05-1980

2

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981

P.L. 97-35

95 Stat. 357-933

08-13-1981

3

Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982

P.L. 97-248

96 Stat. 324-707

09-03-1982

4

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982

P.L. 97-253

96 Stat. 763-807

09-08-1982

5

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983

P.L. 98-270

98 Stat. 157-162

04-18-1984

Byrd Rule in Effect (Partially for COBRA of 1985)

6

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985

P.L. 99-272

100 Stat. 82-391

04-07-1986

7

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986

P.L. 99-509

100 Stat. 1874-2078

10-21-1986

8

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987

P.L. 100-203

101 Stat. 1330, 1-472

12-22-1987

9

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989

P.L. 101-239

103 Stat. 2106-2491

12-19-1989

10

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990

P.L. 101-508

104 Stat. 1388, 1-630

11-05-1990

11

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993

P.L. 103-66

107 Stat. 312-685

08-10-1993

12

Balanced Budget Act of 1995

(H.R. 2491, vetoed)

12-06-1995

13

Personal Responsibility and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996

P.L. 104-193

110 Stat. 2105-2355

08-22-1996

14

Balanced Budget Act of 1997

P.L. 105-33

111 Stat. 251-787

08-05-1997

15

Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997

P.L. 105-34

111 Stat. 788-1103

08-05-1997

16

Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999

(H.R. 2488, vetoed)

09-23-1999

17

Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000

(H.R. 4810, vetoed)

08-05-2000

18

Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001

P.L. 107-16

115 Stat. 38-150

06-07-2001

19

Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003

P.L. 108-27

117 Stat. 752-768

05-28-2003

20

Deficit Reduction Act of 2005

P.L. 109-171

120 Stat. 4-184

02-08-2006

21

Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005

P.L. 109-222

120 Stat. 345-373

05-17-2006

22

College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007

P.L. 110-84

121 Stat. 784-822

09-27-2007

23

Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010

P.L. 111-152

124 Stat. 1029-1083

03-30-2010

24

Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015

(H.R. 3762, vetoed)

01-08-2016

Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service.

As Table 3 shows, there have been 70 points of order and 57 waiver motions, for a total of 127 actions, considered and disposed of under the Byrd rule. The 127 actions involve only those instances in which the Byrd rule was cited specifically; due to the manner in which budget enforcement provisions operate in the Senate, the Byrd rule potentially could have been involved in other instances which cannot be identified.14

There is not a one-to-one correspondence between points of order and waiver motions. A point of order can be raised under the Byrd rule without a waiver motion being offered; conversely, a waiver motion can be offered without a point of order having been raised.

On the whole, the points of order and waiver motions were disposed of in a manner that favored by a large margin those who opposed the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation, as discussed in more detail below.15

Table 3. Budget Reconciliation Acts: Summary of Points of Order and Waiver Motions Under the Byrd Rule

Public Law (or Vetoed Bill) Number

Calendar Year(s) of Senate Action

Points of Order

 

Waiver Motions

Total Points of Order and Waiver Motions

 

 

To Strike Provision(s) From
Amendment, Bill, or Conference Report

To Bar Consideration
of Amendment

Total

Approved

Rejected

Total

 

 

 

Sustained

Fell

Total

Sustained

Fell

Total

 

 

 

 

 

P.L. 99-272

1985

P.L. 99-509

1986

1

1

2

2

1

1

2

4

P.L. 100-203

1987

1

1

1

P.L. 101-239

1989

P.L. 101-508

1990

3

1

4

2

2

6

1

2

3

9

P.L. 103-66

1993

2

2

4

3

3

7

4

4

11

H.R. 2491

1995

4

4

4

4

8

7

7

15

P.L. 104-193

1996

4

1

5

1

1

6

1

3

4

10

P.L. 105-33

1997

2

2

4

3

3

7

2

3

5

12

P.L. 105-34

1997

1

2

3

6

6

9

2

6

8

17

H.R. 2488

1999

1

1

2

2

3

1

3

4

7

H.R. 4810

2000

1

1

2

2

3

2

2

5

P.L. 107-16

2001

P.L. 108-27

2003

1

1

1

1

1

2

P.L. 109-171

2005

1

1

1

1

1

2

P.L. 109-222

2005-2006

1

1

1

1

1

2

P.L. 110-84

2007

P.L. 111-152

2010

2

2

9

9

11

9

9

20

H.R. 3762

2015

1

1

4

4

5

 

5

5

10

Total

22

10

32

38

38

70

9

48

57

127

Source: Prepared by the Congressional Research Service from data provided in the Legislative Information System.

Five of the six definitions of extraneousness (the exception being recommending changes in Social Security) have been cited as bases for points of order under the Byrd rule. The most common basis, that the provision or amendment did not change outlays or revenues, was cited as the sole basis in 34 instances and as one of two bases in three other instances. None of the other bases were cited as often; the second-most cited basis, that the provision or amendment was outside an instructed committee's jurisdiction, was cited in 15 instances. In some instances, the basis for the point of order was not cited.

The Byrd rule has been used primarily during initial consideration of a reconciliation measure. It has been invoked only five times during consideration of a conference report—twice in 1993, once in 1995, once in 1997, and once in 2005:

  • in 1993, two points of order against matter characterized as extraneous in a conference report were rejected by the chair. In both instances, the chair's ruling was upheld upon appeal. The two motions to appeal the chair's rulings were defeated by identical votes, 43-57;
  • in 1995, two sections were struck from a conference report and the two chambers had to resolve the final differences with a further amendment between them;
  • in 1997, a section in the conference report was retained following a successful vote (78-22) to waive a point of order; and
  • finally, in 2005, three provisions were struck from a conference report (another provision was retained), necessitating action on a further amendment between the two chambers.

As shown in Table 3, points of order and waiver motions under the Byrd rule have occurred more frequently in the 1990s (81) compared to the 1980s (5) or the 2000s (41 so far). The middle years of the decade of the 1990s, covering calendar years 1993 through 1997, were especially active in this regard, accounting for 65 of the total 81 points of order and waiver motions during that decade. The most active single year was 2010, which involved 20 points of order and waiver motions.

Points of Order

In total, 70 points of order were raised and disposed of under the Byrd rule. Points of order generally were raised successfully; 60 were sustained (in whole or in part), enabling Senators to strike extraneous matter from the legislation in 22 cases and to bar the consideration of extraneous amendments in 38 cases.

Ten of the points of order fell, either upon the adoption of a waiver motion or upon the ruling of the chair. Two points of order were withdrawn and are not counted in Table 3.

In two instances, a point of order was not raised because a waiver motion previously had been offered and approved, thus making the point of order moot.

In many instances, a point of order was raised against multiple provisions, sections, or titles of the bill, sometimes covering a variety of different topics. In a few cases, the chair ruled that most, but not all, of the provisions violated the Byrd rule.

Waiver Motions

A total of 57 motions to waive the Byrd rule, to permit the inclusion of extraneous matter, were offered and disposed of by the Senate. Waiver motions generally were not offered successfully; nine were approved and 48 were rejected.

Two other waiver motions were withdrawn and a third waiver motion was changed to a unanimous consent request; they are not counted in Table 3.

Eight of the nine successful motions were used to protect committee-reported language in the bill or language in the conference report; only one motion to protect a floor amendment was successful.

Eight of the successful waiver motions exceeded the required 60-vote threshold by between two votes and 21 votes; on average, they exceeded the threshold by nearly 12 votes. The remaining successful waiver motion was approved by voice vote.

With regard to the 48 unsuccessful waiver motions, 47 of them fell short of the threshold by between one vote and 43 votes; on average, they fell short of the threshold by about 13 votes. The remaining unsuccessful waiver motion was rejected by voice vote. Nineteen of the unsuccessful waiver motions garnered at least 51 votes.

In one instance, the Senate set aside the Byrd rule without employing a waiver motion. The FY1988 budget resolution, in Section 4, set forth reconciliation instructions to various House and Senate committees, including the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. Section 6(a) of the budget resolution stated the assumption that in complying with their instructions, the two committees would establish a "deficit reduction account." Section 6(b) waived the Byrd rule for the consideration of any legislation reported under the assumed procedure:

(b) Legislation reported pursuant to subsection (a) shall not be considered to be extraneous for purposes of section 20001 of the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985 (as amended by section 7006 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986) or Senate Resolution 509 (99th Congress, 2d Session).16

The references in Section 6(b) were to the legislation that initially established the Byrd rule and extended it temporarily, before it was incorporated into the CBA of 1974 act on a permanent basis as Section 313.

Table 4, at the end of this section, provides more detailed information on points of order and waiver motions made under the Byrd rule from 1985 through 2015.

Instances in Which the Byrd Rule Was Not Invoked

The Senate considered four different reconciliation measures without taking any actions under the Byrd rule. First, no points of order were raised, or waiver motions offered, under the Byrd rule during final consideration of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985 in late 1985 and early 1986; as previously mentioned, this was the first instance in which the Byrd rule applied.17

In 1989, no actions involving the Byrd rule occurred, in large part because the Senate leadership chose to use an amendment rather than the Byrd rule to deal with extraneous matter in the bill. On October 13, 1989, during consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation of 1989, the Senate adopted Mitchell Amendment No. 1004 by voice vote. The amendment struck extraneous matter from the bill; its stated purpose was "to strike all matter from the bill that does not reduce the deficit."18

In 2001, no actions under the Byrd rule were taken during consideration of a significant revenue-reduction measure, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. The potential application of the Byrd rule to the measures was averted by the inclusion of "sunset" provisions that limited the duration of the tax cuts, thereby preventing deficit increases beyond the applicable budget window.

Finally, the Byrd rule was not invoked during consideration of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.

In another instance, the Senate considered two reconciliation bills in 2005 (the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005); final Senate action on the tax measure carried over into 2006. While points of order were raised successfully under the Byrd rule with regard to both measures in 2005, no actions under the rule occurred in 2006 as the Senate completed action on the tax measure.19

Byrd Rule Controversies

Although the Byrd rule has advocates in the House and Senate, its use sometimes has engendered much controversy, especially between the two houses. Several of the major controversies are discussed below.

Impact on House-Senate Relations in 1993 and 1994

In 1993 and 1994, during the 103rd Congress, the stringent application of the Byrd rule by the Senate significantly influenced the final shape of the reconciliation act and later affected the deliberations of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress.

The House considered its version of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, H.R. 2264, on May 27. The Senate considered its version, S. 1134, on June 23 and June 24 (after completing consideration of S. 1134, the Senate amended and passed H.R. 2264 for purposes of conference with the House). Senator Pete Domenici, ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee, inserted a list of potentially extraneous matters included in S. 1134 in the Congressional Record of June 24 (at p. S7984).20 The list identified more than a dozen sections in five titles of the bill as possibly being in violation of the Byrd rule, specifically Section 313(b)(1)(A) (i.e., producing no change in outlays or revenues).

At the House-Senate conference stage, the Senate leadership directed the parliamentarian and Senate Budget Committee staff to thoroughly review the legislation to identify any provisions originating in the House or Senate that might violate the Byrd rule.21 As a result of this review, many provisions were deleted from the legislation in conference.

During Senate consideration of the conference report, Senator James Sasser, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, discussed this process:

with regard to the Byrd rule, we worked very hard and very faithfully over a period of well over a week in going over this bill to try to clarify and remove items that might be subject to the Byrd rule.

As the distinguished ranking member indicated, I think over 150 items were removed from the reconciliation instrument here, because it was felt that they would be subject to the Byrd rule....

I might say some of our House colleagues could not understand, and I do not blame them because there were a number of things that were pulled out of this budget reconciliation that had been voted on and passed by large majorities in both houses. But simply because they violated the Byrd rule, we had to go to the chairmen of the appropriate House committees and tell them they had to come out. They simply did not understand it. I think it made them perhaps have a little less high esteem for some of us here in the Senate.... In the final analysis, their leadership had to demand that some of these provisions subject to the Byrd rule come out.22

During House consideration of the conference report, several Democratic Members criticized the Byrd rule and discussed its impact on the legislation. For example, Representative Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, stated

I also have to express my grave concerns regarding the other body's so-called Byrd rule. As a result of this procedural rule, policies that would have significantly improved the Medicare Program could not even be considered. Over 80 pages of statutory language were stripped out of the Medicare title. Staff wasted countless hours, scrutinizing every line to ensure that there is nothing that would upset our friends at the other end of the Capitol. Even more absurd is the fact that most of the items stripped were minor and technical provisions that received bipartisan support when they passed both the House and the Senate last year.

I hope that Members on both sides of the aisle share my grave concerns about how this rule has been used, and its impact on reconciliation. I sincerely hope that this rule will be reconsidered before we ever return to the reconciliation process again.23

Controversy over the Byrd rule persisted during late 1993 and into 1994. The Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, co-chaired by Representative Lee Hamilton and Senator David Boren, was slated to make recommendations on congressional reform, including changes in the budget process, in December of 1993. Representative Martin Olav Sabo, chairman of the House Budget Committee, wrote to Co-Chair Hamilton in October, telling him that "widespread use [of the Byrd rule] this year was extremely destructive and bodes ill for the reconciliation process in the future." Further, he stated that "the use of mechanisms like the Byrd rule greatly distorts the balance of power between the two bodies" and that strict enforcement of the Byrd rule "requires that too much power be delegated to unelected employees of the Congress."24

Chairman Sabo attached two Budget Committee staff documents to his letter: (1) a 29-page listing of reconciliation provisions "dropped or modified" in conference in order to comply with the Byrd rule, and (2) a three-page statement identifying specific problems caused by the rule (including a bar against including authorizations savings in reconciliation, the forcing of piecemeal legislation, incentives to use counterproductive drafting techniques to mitigate effects, and a bar against provisions achieving savings or promoting efficiency when the Congressional Budget Office was unable to assign particular savings to them).

The Senate Members of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress recommended in their final report that a provision clarifying "that the 'Byrd rule' is permanent, applies to conference reports, requires sixty votes to waive, and applies to extraneous matters" be included in a broad reform bill.25 Legislation embodying the Senate recommendations (S. 1824) was introduced on February 3, 1994 (the recommendation pertaining to the Byrd rule was set forth in Section 312 of the bill). The House Members of the Joint Committee did not include any recommendations regarding the Byrd rule in their report or legislation (H.R. 3801, also introduced on February 3, 1994).

The day after the two reform bills were introduced, the chairmen of 15 House committees wrote to Speaker Tom Foley. They urged him to meet with Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell in order to get Section 312 of S. 1824, dealing with the Byrd rule, removed from the reform package.26

On July 19, 1994, Chairman Sabo introduced H.R. 4780. The bill would have amended the CBA of 1974 to make the Byrd rule "applicable to the Senate only," chiefly by removing references to conference reports in Section 313 of the act.27

None of the three bills cited above were acted upon before the 103rd Congress adjourned.

Effects on Tax-Cut Legislation

During the 106th Congress, the budget resolutions for FY2000 and FY2001 included reconciliation instructions directing the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees to develop legislation implementing substantial reductions in revenue.28 The reconciliation instructions in the two budget resolutions called for total revenue reduction over five years of $142 billion and $150 billion, respectively.29 Neither budget resolution included any instructions regarding spending. This marked the first time that the House and Senate had recommended substantial reductions in revenue through the reconciliation process without offsetting savings to be achieved in spending programs. Any resultant reconciliation legislation was expected under these budget resolutions to reduce large surpluses, not to incur or worsen deficits.

In each of these two years, there was controversy in the Senate regarding the appropriateness of using reconciliation procedures under circumstances that worsened the federal government's fiscal posture. Some Senators argued that the use of reconciliation, with its procedural restrictions that sharply curtail debate time and limit the offering of amendments in comparison to the usual Senate procedures, could be justified only when it was necessary to reduce or eliminate a deficit (or to preserve or increase a surplus). Other Senators maintained that reconciliation is neutral in its orientation—the language in Section 310 of the CBA of 1974 refers to "changes" in spending and revenue amounts, not increases or decreases—and is intended to expedite the consideration of important and potentially complex budgetary legislation.

Against the backdrop of the larger issue of the appropriate use of reconciliation under these circumstances, Senators also debated in particular the impact of the Byrd rule on the scope of the resultant tax-cut legislation. One of the determinants of extraneousness under the Byrd rule is whether the legislation reduces revenues or increases spending in the net beyond the budget window (i.e., the period to which the reconciliation instructions apply). Changes in tax law, however, often are made on a permanent basis. As a consequence, reconciliation legislation recommending permanent tax cuts may run afoul of the Byrd rule.

During consideration of the Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 and the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, the Byrd rule was used successfully to ensure the inclusion of sunset provisions in the bills, limiting the effectiveness of the tax cuts to the period covered by the reconciliation instructions.30

During the first session of the 107th Congress, the Senate again addressed these issues as it considered H.R. 1836, largely embodying President Bush's proposal for a $1.6 trillion tax cut.31 In addition to debating the appropriateness of using the reconciliation process to expedite tax-cut legislation, Senators argued for and against the inclusion of the 10-year "sunset" provision necessary to achieve compliance with the Byrd rule. Some Senators maintained that permanent changes in tax law should be allowed under reconciliation procedures, just as they often are customarily made in freestanding tax legislation. Other Senators praised the value of being able to reexamine such significant modifications in budgetary policy in future years when economic circumstances may have changed materially.

The sunset provision was retained in the final version of the legislation, as Section 901 (115 Stat. 150) of P.L. 107-16, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

In 2003, during the first session of the 108th Congress, the Byrd rule influenced the form of revenue reconciliation directives in the FY2004 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 95).32 Initially, House and Senate leaders indicated that they would settle on a conference agreement instructing the House Ways and Means Committee to reduce revenues through reconciliation by $550 billion or more for the period covering FY2003-FY2013 and the Senate Finance Committee to reduce revenues by $350 billion for the same period. A majority of Senators had indicated their opposition to revenue reductions greater than $350 billion.

The use of dual reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution would enable the leadership to secure passage of the budget resolution while leaving open the possibility that a subsequent conference on the differing versions of the revenue reconciliation measure passed by the two houses might reach an acceptable compromise between these two amounts.

However, it soon became apparent that, if the Senate initially passed a revenue reconciliation measure consistent with the directive in the budget resolution (i.e., reducing revenues by $350 billion), the later consideration of a conference agreement reflecting a compromise level of revenue reductions greater than $350 billion could violate the Byrd rule. In particular, Section 313(b)(1)(B) defines as extraneous any provision reported by a committee that reduces revenues (or increases outlays) if the net effect of all of the committee's provisions is that it fails to achieve its reconciliation instructions. Proposing revenue reductions greater than the level of reductions set in the reconciliation instructions would be considered a failure to achieve the instructions.

In order to resolve the problem, the conference agreement on the FY2004 budget resolution instructed both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to reduce revenues by $550 billion over FY2003-FY2013, but a point of order barred the initial consideration in the Senate of a reconciliation measure (as distinct from a conference report) containing revenue reductions in excess of $350 billion for this period.33 The FY2004 budget resolution further provided that the Senate point of order could be waived only by the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the Members duly chosen and sworn (i.e., 60 Senators, if no seats are vacant). This procedural formulation strengthened the position of those who favored initial Senate passage of a reconciliation measure limited to $350 billion in revenue reductions, but removed the potential Byrd rule hurdle should a majority of Senators later choose to support a conference agreement providing as much as $550 billion in revenue reductions.34

Senator Max Baucus, the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, questioned whether the directive to the committee should be regarded as $350 billion or $550 billion.35 Ultimately, Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, indicated that he had reached agreement with other Senators to adhere to the $350 billion level in the conference on the reconciliation measure, notwithstanding the fact that the limitation in Section 202 of the budget resolution only applied to initial consideration of the measure.36 The resultant reconciliation measure (H.R. 2), according to final estimates of the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Tax Committee, contained $349.7 billion in revenue reductions and related outlay changes.37 The bill, which became P.L. 108-27, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, on May 28, 2003, included sunset provisions in Section 107 (117 Stat. 755-756) and Section 303 (117 Stat. 764).

During the 109th Congress, the House and Senate considered separate revenue and spending reconciliation bills pursuant to the FY2006 budget resolution. The budget resolution provided for a revenue reconciliation bill that reduced revenues by up to $70 billion over the five-year budget window (FY2006-FY2010) used in the budget resolution. The conference agreement on the revenue reconciliation bill, H.R. 4297, recommended significant revenue reduction beyond the budget window, principally with respect to extensions of current capital gains and dividends provisions through December 31, 2010.38 Instead of incorporating sunset provisions in order to comply with the Byrd rule, as had been done in the past, the conferees included offsets of the revenue losses. The JCT estimated the total revenue loss over 10 years (FY2006-FY2015) at $69.084 billion, an amount nearly $900 million smaller than the five-year revenue loss. The measure became P.L. 109-222, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, on May 17, 2006.

Comprehensive Policy Changes: Health Care and Education Reform

At the beginning of the 111th Congress, in 2009, President Barack Obama proposed a legislative agenda focusing on health care reform, as well as broad initiatives in education and other policy areas. An immediate point of contention was whether the proposals regarding health care reform should be pursued through the regular legislative process or the expedited procedures available under the reconciliation process. The Democratic leadership in the Senate was concerned, in particular, that passage of the proposals in the Senate could be stymied by a filibuster conducted by Republican opponents. Use of the reconciliation process, with its debate limitations and other expedited features, would ensure that a filibuster could not be employed against the legislation. On the other hand, in such a comprehensive reform proposal, many important provisions might be vulnerable to challenge under the Byrd rule and other enforcement procedures; the resulting legislation might become like "Swiss cheese" if many parliamentary challenges were successful.

Congressional leaders decided to consider health care reform (and education reform) proposals under the regular legislative process, but to include reconciliation directives in the FY2010 budget resolution so that reconciliation procedures could be used as a fallback if regular legislative procedures failed. One of the factors influencing the decision was that, at the time, the Democrats held a 60-seat majority in the Senate, exactly the minimum number of votes needed to invoke cloture (i.e., to terminate a filibuster). Title II of the FY2010 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 13, included reconciliation directives for FY2009-FY2014 to three House and two Senate committees that would accommodate health care and education reform initiatives.39

The House and Senate passed separate versions of health care reform legislation in late 2009 but did not resolve their differences before the session ended. The House passed H.R. 3962 on November 7 by a vote of 220-215. The Senate chose another House-passed bill dealing with unrelated subject matter, H.R. 3590, and transformed it into a health care reform measure; the Senate passed the bill on December 24 by a vote of 60-39. (In addition, the House passed an education reform measure in 2009, H.R. 3221, but the Senate did not.)

In early 2010, the Democratic leadership in the Senate found an altered political situation; a special election held in Massachusetts in January to fill a vacant seat (due to the death of Senator Ted Kennedy) resulted in a changeover to Republican control of the seat, thereby reducing the Democratic majority in the Senate to 59 seats. In assessing how to resolve the House-Senate differences in the health care reform legislation, the Democratic leadership faced a dilemma: the Democrats no longer held the 60-seat majority necessary to thwart a filibuster (and Republican opposition to the measure was unified), and the House could not pass the Senate version without change, thereby sending it to the President, because that version was not acceptable to a majority of House Members.

The solution to the dilemma settled on by the Democratic leadership was for the House to pass the Senate version of health care reform legislation, H.R. 3590, while simultaneously passing a reconciliation measure (referred to colloquially as a "sidecar") that would amend H.R. 3590 in a manner acceptable to majorities in both chambers. In this manner, comprehensive health care reform legislation could be enacted without concern about challenges under the Byrd rule that could strip away many of its provisions, while the revisions to the measure necessary to accommodate the political agreement could be achieved through an expedited reconciliation process that relied upon a simple majority vote in the Senate rather than a 60-vote supermajority. Education reform provisions also would be included in the reconciliation measure. Compared with the comprehensive health care reform measure, the reconciliation bill was much more narrow in scope and focused on budgetary matters.40

To execute this strategy, the House on March 21, 2010, adopted a special rule reported by the House Rules Committee, H.Res. 1203, by a vote of 224-206. Under the terms of the special rule, the House then concurred in the Senate amendments to H.R. 3590 (thus clearing the bill for the President) by a vote of 219-212. Finally, the House passed H.R. 4872, the reconciliation measure, by a vote of 220-211.

Following the House's actions on March 21, the Senate considered H.R. 4872 on March 23, 24, and 25, passing the measure on March 25 by a vote of 56-43. Republican opponents of the measure offered a series of amendments and motions to recommit to the bill, all of which were defeated by motions to table or points of order. Nine of the amendments fell when points of order raised under the Byrd rule were sustained (in each instance, after a waiver motion had been rejected). All but one of the points of order were raised on the ground that the amendment included provisions outside the jurisdiction of the instructed committees.41

Toward the end of Senate consideration of the reconciliation measure on March 25, Senator Judd Gregg successfully raised two points of order under the Byrd rule, striking two brief provisions in the education reform portion of the measure dealing with the Pell grant program.42 The provisions were judged to be in violation of the Byrd rule on the ground that they produced no changes in outlays or revenues.

As required under the Byrd rule, the Senate then returned the reconciliation measure (with the two provisions pertaining to the Pell grant program removed) to the House for further action. On March 25, the House agreed to a special rule, H.Res. 1225, providing for the consideration of a motion for the House to concur in the Senate amendment to H.R. 4872. The House agreed to the motion by a vote of 220-207, thus clearing the measure for the President.

President Obama signed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law on March 23 as P.L. 111-148, and H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, into law on March 30 as P.L. 111-152.

Table 4. Listing of Actions Under the Senate's Byrd Rule, by Act: 1985-2015

 

Object of Point of Ordera

Basis of Point of Orderb

Subject Matter

Waiver Motionc

Disposition of Point of Order

1. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-272; 4/7/1986)d

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[not applicable]

2. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-509; 10/21/1986)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 403

Outlay increase when committee not in compliance

Conservation programs

Rejected, 32-61

Sustained; section struck
(September 19, 1986)

 

p. 139, line 1-p. 161, line 17; and p. 162, lines 1-24

Outside committee's jurisdiction

Program fraud civil remedies

Approved, 79-15

Fell
(September 19, 1986)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[none]

3. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-203; 12/22/1987)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Byrd-Dole Amendment No. 1254; Kassebaum Amendment No. 1259; and Gramm Amendment No. 1260

[specific basis not cited]

[various topics]

Approved, 81-13

[none raised]

4. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-239; 12/19/1989)e

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[none]

5. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508; 11/5/1990)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 7405(j)

Outside committee's jurisdiction

Apportionment of highway funds between states

None

Sustained; subsection struck
(October 17, 1990)

 

p. 1017, line 5-p. 1018, line 19; and p. 1018, line 22-p. 1019, line 18

Budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties

None

Sustained; provisions struck
(October 18, 1990)

 

Sections 4003-4016

No change in outlays or revenues

Harvesting of timber in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska

None

Sustained; sections struck
(October 18, 1990)

 

Title III, Subtitle B (as modified)

No change in outlays or revenues

National aviation noise policy, limitations on airport improvement program revenues, high density traffic airport rules, and related matters

Approved, 69-31

Fell
(October 18, 1990)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Graham Amendment No. 3025

No change in outlays or revenues

Authorize Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to develop risk-based insurance system

Rejected, voice vote

Sustained; amendment fell
(October 18, 1990)

 

Symms Amendment No. 3039

No change in outlays or revenues

Deposit of all increased motor fuel taxes (other than taxes on railroads) into Highway Trust Fund

Rejected, 48-52

Sustained, amendment fell
(October 18, 1990)

6. Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-66; 8/10/1993)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 1105(c)

No change in outlays or revenues

Commercial use of bovine growth hormone in other countries

Rejected, 38-60

Sustained; subsection struck
(June 24, 1993)

 

Section 7801; Section 7803(a) (proposing in part new Sections 2106 and 2108(b)(2) of the Social Security Act); and Section 8252(a)(2), (b), and (c)

No change in outlays or revenues

Childhood immunizations and tax return preparer standards

None

Sustained; most provisions struckf
(June 24, 1993)

 

Section 13631(b) (proposing in part a new Section 1928 of the Social Security Act)

No change in outlays or revenues; budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Childhood immunizations

None

Fell. Motion to appeal Chair's ruling rejected, 43-57
(August 6, 1993)

 

Section 1106(a)

Budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Imposition of domestic content requirements on U.S. cigarette manufacturers

None

Fell. Motion to appeal Chair's ruling rejected, 43-57
(August 6, 1993)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Domenici/Nunn Amendment No. 544

No change in outlays or revenues

Extend discretionary caps on defense, international, and domestic spending through FY1995

Rejected, 53-45

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 24, 1993)

 

Bradley Amendment No. 542

No change in outlays or revenues

Separate enrollment requirement for appropriations and tax expenditures

Rejected, 53-45

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 24, 1993)

 

Gramm Amendment No. 557

No change in outlays or revenues

Restoration of maximum deficit amounts

Rejected, 43-55

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 24, 1993)

7. Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (H.R. 2491; vetoed 12/6/1995)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 7171

No change in outlays or revenues

Raising the age of Medicare eligibility

None

Sustained; section struck
(October 27, 1995)

 

Section 7191(a)

No change in outlays or revenues

Bar against the use of federal funding of abortions under Medicaid

Rejected, 55-45

Sustained; subsection struck
(October 27, 1995)

 

49 provisions in various titles of the bill

[various bases cited]

[various topics, dealing primarily with welfare reform]

Rejected, 53-46

Sustained against 46 provisions, which were struck; not sustained against 3 provisions, which remained in bill
(October 27, 1995)

 

Section 8001 (proposing in part a new Section 1853(f) to the Social Security Act) and Section 13301

No change in outlays or revenues; budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Application of antitrust rule to provider-sponsored organizations (MedicarePlus) and exemption of physician office laboratories.

Rejected, 54-45

Sustained; provisions struck from conference report
(November 17, 1995)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Dorgan Amendment No. 2977

[specific basis not cited]

Ending deferral for U.S. shareholders on income of controlled foreign corporations attributable to imported property

Rejected, 47-52

Sustained; amendment fell

(October 26, 1995)

 

Specter Modified Amendment No. 2986

No change in outlays or revenues

Expressing sense of the Senate regarding a flat tax

Rejected, 17-82

Sustained; amendment fell
(October 27, 1995)

 

Bumpers Amendment No. 3028

No change in outlays or revenues

Prohibition against the scoring of assets sales as budget savings

Rejected, 49-50

Sustained; amendment fell
(October 27, 1995)

 

Byrd/Dorgan Amendment No. 2942

No change in outlays or revenues

Increase time limit on debate in Senate on reconciliation legislation

Rejected, 47-52

Sustained; amendment fell
(October 27, 1995)

8. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193; 8/22/1996)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 2923 (proposing a new Section 1511 of the Social Security Act), p. 772, line 13-p. 785, line 22

Outlay increase when committee not in compliance

Medicaid supplemental umbrella fund

None

Sustained; provision struck
(July 18, 1996)

 

Section 408(a)(2)

No change in outlays or revenues

Family cap (no additional cash assistance for children born to families receiving assistance)

Rejected, 42-57

Sustained; provision struck
(July 23, 1996)

 

Section 2104

No change in outlays or revenues

Social services provided by charitable or private organizations

Approved, 67-32

Fell
(July 23, 1996)

 

Section 2909

No change in outlays or revenues

Abstinence education programs

Rejected, 52-46

Sustained; provision struck
(July 23, 1996)

 

22 provisions in various titles of the bill

[various bases cited]

Various topics involving the Food Stamp, School Lunch, and Child Nutrition programs and welfare reform

None

Sustained against 21 provisions, which were struck from the bill; not sustained against 1 provision, which remained in the bill
(July 23, 1996)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

First Modified Amendment No. 4914

No change in outlays or revenues

Expressing the sense of Congress that the President should ensure approval of state welfare reform waiver requests

Rejected, 55-43

Sustained; amendment fell
(July 19, 1996)

9. Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-33; 8/5/1997)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 5611

No change in outlays or revenues

Raising the age of Medicare eligibility

Approved, 62-38

Fell
(June 24, 1997)

 

Section 5822

Budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Enrollment eligibility (Welfare-to-Work Grant Program)

[waiver motion withdrawn]

Sustained; provision struck
(June 25, 1997)

 

Section 1949(a)(2)

No change in outlays or revenues

Bar against the use of federal funding of abortions under Medicaid

None

[point of order withdrawn]

 

Sections 5713, 5833, and 5987

Outside committee's jurisdiction

[various topics]

None

Sustained; sections struck

(June 25, 1997)

 

Section 5001

No change in outlays or revenues

Establishment of a Medicare Choice program (balanced billing protection)

Approved, 62-37

Fell
(June 25, 1997)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Levin Amendment No. 482

No change in outlays or revenues

Allowing vocational educational training to be counted as a work activity under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program

Rejected, 55-45

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 25, 1997)

 

Kennedy Amendment No. 490

Increase in deficit or reduction of surplus in fiscal year beyond those covered by instructions

Student loan programs

Rejected, 43-57

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 25, 1997)

 

Kennedy Amendment No. 504

[no basis cited]

Immediate transfer to Medicare Part B of certain home health benefits

Rejected, 38-62

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 25, 1997)

10. Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-34; 8/5/1997)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 602

No change in outlays or revenues

District of Columbia Government reform

[waiver motion withdrawn]

Sustained; section struck
(June 26, 1997)

 

Section 702(d)

No change in outlays or revenues

Intercity passenger rail funding

Approved, 77-21

Fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

Section 1604(f)(3)

No change in outlays or revenues

Crediting of new cigarette tax against "global settlement"

Approved, 78-22

Fell
(July 31, 1997)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Gramm Amendment No. 566

No change in outlays or revenues

Balanced budget enforcement procedures

Rejected, 37-63

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

Bumpers Amendment No. 568

[no basis cited]

Prohibition against scoring, for budget purposes, revenues from sale of certain federal lands

Rejected, 48-52

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

Craig Amendment No. 569

No change in outlays or revenues

Prohibition in PAYGO budget process against using tax increases to pay for mandatory spending increases

Rejected, 42-58

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

Brownback/Kohl Amendment No. 570

No change in outlays or revenues

Balanced budget enforcement procedures

Rejected, 57-43

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

First Amendment No. 571

No change in outlays or revenues

Balanced budget enforcement procedures

Rejected, 59-41

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

 

Abraham Amendment No. 538

No change in outlays or revenues

Reservation of future revenue windfalls for tax or deficit reduction

Rejected, 53-47

Sustained; amendment fell
(June 27, 1997)

11. Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (H.R. 2488; vetoed 9/23/1999)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 1502

Increase in deficit or reduction of surplus in fiscal year beyond those covered by instructions

General extension of revenue-reduction provisions

Rejected, 51-48

Sustained; section struck
(July 28, 1999)

 

Section 202

Increase in outlays

Enhancement of the Earned Income Tax Credit for married couples

Approved, voice vote

[none raised]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Bingaman Amendment No. 1462

No change in outlays or revenues

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding investment in education

Rejected, 48-52

Sustained; amendment fell
(July 30, 1999)

 

First Amendment No. 1467

No change in outlays or revenues

Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the Medicare Reserve Fund

Rejected, 54-46

Sustained; amendment fell
(July 30, 1999)

12. Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000 (H.R. 4810; vetoed 8/5/2000)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 4

Increase in outlays

Enhancement of the Earned Income Tax Credit for married couples

On July 17, the waiver motion (made on July 14) was changed to a unanimous consent request and agreed to

Fell
(July 17, 2000)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Roth Amendment No. 3864

Increase in deficit or reduction of surplus in fiscal year beyond those covered by instructions

Striking the sunset provision in the legislation

Rejected, 48-47 (waiver motion also applied to amendment listed below)

Sustained; amendment fell
(July 17, 2000)

 

Roth Amendment No. 3865

Increase in deficit or reduction of surplus in fiscal year beyond those covered by instructions

Striking the sunset provision in the legislation

Rejected, 48-47 (waiver motion also applied to amendment listed above)

Sustained; amendment fell
(July 17, 2000)

13. Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-16; 6/7/2001)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[none]

14. Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-27; 5/28/2003)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Sessions Amendment No. 639

Increase in deficit or reduction of surplus in fiscal year beyond those covered by instructions

Applying the sunset provision to the revenue increase provisions

Rejected, 51-49

Sustained; amendment fell
(May 15, 2003)

15. Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171; 2/8/2006)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 5001(b)(3) and (b)(4), a portion of Section 6043(a), and Section 7404

No change in outlays or revenues (Section 5001(b)(3) and (b)(4)), and budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components (a portion of Section 6043(a) and Section 7404)

Requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit to Congress by August 1, 2007, a report on the plan for the hospital value based purchasing program under Medicare (Section 5001(b)(3); requiring the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to submit to Congress by June 1, 2007, a report that includes detailed recommendations on a structure of value based payment adjustments for hospital services under Medicare (Section 5001(b)(4); the negligent standard for hospitals and physicians who treat Medicaid patients (a portion of Section 6043(a); and eligibility for foster care maintenance payments and adoption assistance (Section 7404)

Rejected, 52-48 (waiver motion applied to first three provisions, but did not apply to Section 7404)

Sustained against first three provisions, which were struck from the bill; not sustained against Section 7404, which remained in the bill
(December 21, 2005)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[none]

 

 

 

 

16. Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-222; 5/17/2006)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

 

 

 

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Grassley Amendment No. 2654

No change in outlays or revenues

Sense of the Senate statement on extension of tax policy and health care reform

Rejected, 53-45

Sustained; amendment fell

(November 17, 2005)

17. College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-84; 9/27/2007)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

[none]

 

 

 

 

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

[none]

 

 

 

 

18. Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152; 3/30/2010)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Bill or Conference Report

 

Section 2101(a)(2)(C) (page 118, lines 15-25), in part proposed a new Section 401(b)(8)(C)(iv) to the Higher Education Act of 1965

No change in outlays or revenues

Limitation on decreases under the formula setting the maximum Pell grant amount annually

None

Sustained; provision struck
(March 25, 2010)

 

Section 2101(a)(2)(D) and (E) (page 120, lines 3-5), proposed striking Section 401(b)(8)(E) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (and the redesignating subparagraph (F) as (E))

No change in outlays or revenues

Repeal and redesignation of subparagraphs pertaining to technical aspects of Pell grant funding

None

Sustained; provision struck
(March 25, 2010)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Grassley/Roberts Amendment No. 3564

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To make sure the President, Cabinet Members, all White House Senior staff and Congressional Committee and Leadership Staff are purchasing health insurance through the health insurance exchanges established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Rejected, 43-56

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 24, 2010)

 

LeMieux Amendment No. 3586

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To enroll Members of Congress in the Medicaid program

Rejected, 40-59

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 24, 2010)

 

Roberts Amendment No. 3577

Budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

To protect Medicare beneficiary access to hospital care in rural areas from recommendations by the Independent Payment Advisory Board

Rejected, 42-54

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 24, 2010)

 

Grassley Amendment No. 3699

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To provide a temporary extension of certain programs

Rejected, 40-56

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 24, 2010)

 

Hutchison Amendment No. 3635

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To repeal the sunset on marriage penalty relief and to make the election to deduct State and local sales taxes permanent (with an offset from the rescission of certain unobligated balances under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)

Rejected, 40-55

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 24, 2010)

 

Ensign Amendment No. 3593

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To improve access to pro bono care for medically underserved or indigent individuals by providing limited medical liability protections

Rejected, 40-55

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 25, 2010)

 

Coburn Amendment No. 3700

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To help protect Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans

Rejected, 45-53

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 25, 2010)

 

Vitter Amendment No. 3665

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To prevent the new government entitlement program from further increasing an unsustainable deficit

Rejected, 39-56

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 25, 2010)

 

Murkowski Amendment No. 3711

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To provide an inflation adjustment for the additional hospital insurance tax on high-income taxpayers (with an offset from the rescission of certain unobligated balances under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)

Rejected, 42-57

Sustained; amendment fell
(March 25, 2010)

19. Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3762; vetoed 1/8/2016)

 

a. To Strike Provision(s) from Amendment, Bill, or Conference Report

 

Section 105(b) in Enzi (for McConnell) Amendment No. 2916 (to Amendment No. 2874)

Budgetary changes merely incidental to non-budgetary components

Sunset risk corridors for plans in individual and small group markets program established by Section 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Rejected, 52-47

Sustained; provision struck
(December 3, 2015)

 

b. To Bar Consideration of Amendment(s)

 

Cornyn Amendment No. 2912 (to Amendment No. 2874)

Outside committee's jurisdiction

Relating to the Protect America Act

Rejected, 55-44

Sustained; amendment fell
(December 3, 2015)

 

Feinstein Amendment No. 2910 (to Amendment No. 2874)

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists

Rejected, 45-54

Sustained; amendment fell
(December 3, 2015)

 

Grassley Amendment No. 2914 (to Amendment No. 2874)

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To address gun violence, improve the availability of records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and end straw purchases and trafficking of illegal firearms

Rejected, 53-46

Sustained; amendment fell
(December 3, 2015)

 

Manchin/Toomey Amendment No. 2908 (to Amendment No. 2874)

Outside committee's jurisdiction

To protect Second Amendment rights, ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process

Rejected, 48-50

Sustained; amendment fell
(December 3, 2015)

a. The Byrd rule is Section 313 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, as amended (2 U.S.C. 644). There are many point-of-order provisions in Titles III and IV of the act. In some instances, points of order or waiver motions are made under the act by general reference only (such as a Senator raising a point of order "under Title III of the Act") rather than by specific reference to the provision(s) involved. When only general references are made, it usually is impossible to determine (by reference to debate in the Congressional Record alone) which provision of the act is involved. Consequently, this table reflects only those instances when specific reference was made to Section 313 of the act or to the Byrd rule. The object of a point of order under the Byrd rule may be to strike one or more provisions (as designated by title or section number, or by page and line number) in a reconciliation measure or a conference report thereon, or to bar consideration of one or more amendments thereto.

b. A provision is regarded as extraneous under the Byrd rule if it:

(1) does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;

(2) produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;

(3) is outside of the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;

(4) produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

(5) would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure; or

(6) recommends changes in Social Security.

The Byrd rule sets forth specific exceptions to the criteria to determine extraneousness.

c. Under the Byrd rule, a successful waiver motion requires the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the membership (60 Senators, if no seats are vacant). A single waiver motion can: (1) apply to the Byrd rule as well as other provisions of the CBA of 1974; (2) involve multiple as well as single provisions or amendments; (3) extend (for specified language) through consideration of the conference report as well as initial consideration of the measure or amendment; and (4) be made prior to the raising of a point of order, thus making the point of order moot.

d. On October 24, 1985, Senator Robert C. Byrd offered an amendment containing the Byrd rule to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985, which the Senate adopted. In this form, the Byrd rule applied to initial Senate consideration of reconciliation measures. On December 19, 1985, the Senate adopted S.Res. 286, which extended the application of portions of the provision in COBRA of 1985 to conference reports and amendments between the two houses. Because the enactment of COBRA of 1985 was delayed until early 1986, the portion of the Byrd rule dealing with conference reports became effective first. Senate consideration of the conference report on COBRA of 1985, and amendments between the two houses thereon, occurred beginning on December 19, 1985. Therefore, only the portion of the Byrd rule dealing with conference reports and amendments between the two houses applied during the consideration of COBRA of 1985. No actions were taken under the rule.

e. On October 13, 1989, during consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989, the Senate adopted Mitchell Amendment No. 1004 by voice vote. The amendment struck extraneous matter from the bill; its stated purpose was "to strike all matter from the bill that does not reduce the deficit"; (see the Congressional Record, daily edition (October 13, 1989), p. S13349).

f. The point of order was not sustained against that part of Section 7803(a) proposing a new Section 2106 of the Social Security Act.

Appendix. Text of the Byrd Rule

(Section 313 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974)

EXTRANEOUS MATTER IN RECONCILIATION LEGISLATION

Sec. 313. (a) In General.—When the Senate is considering a reconciliation bill or a reconciliation resolution pursuant to Section 310, (whether that bill or resolution originated in the Senate or the House) or Section 258C of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 upon a point of order being made by any Senator against material extraneous to the instructions to a committee which is contained in any title or provision of the bill or resolution or offered as an amendment to the bill or resolution, and the point of order is sustained by the Chair, any part of said title or provision that contains material extraneous to the instructions to said Committee as defined in subsection (b) shall be deemed struck from the bill and may not be offered as an amendment from the floor.

(b) Extraneous Provisions.—(1)(A) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a provision of a reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution considered pursuant to Section 310 shall be considered extraneous if such provision does not produce a change in outlays or revenues, including changes in outlays and revenues brought about by changes in the terms and conditions under which outlays are made or revenues are required to be collected (but a provision in which outlay decreases or revenue increases exactly offset outlay increases or revenue decreases shall not be considered extraneous by virtue of this subparagraph);

(B) any provision producing an increase in outlays or decrease in revenues shall be considered extraneous if the net effect of provisions reported by the Committee reporting the title containing the provision is that the Committee fails to achieve its reconciliation instructions;

(C) a provision that is not in the jurisdiction of the Committee with jurisdiction over said title or provision shall be considered extraneous;

(D) a provision shall be considered extraneous if it produces changes in outlays or revenues which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

(E) a provision shall be considered to be extraneous if it increases, or would increase, net outlays, or if it decreases, or would decrease, revenues during a fiscal year after the fiscal years covered by such reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution, and such increases or decreases are greater than outlay reductions or revenue increases resulting from other provisions in such title in such year; and

(F) a provision shall be considered extraneous if it violates Section 310(g).

(2) A Senate-originated provision shall not be considered extraneous under paragraph (1)(A) if the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Committee on the Budget and the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Committee which reported the provision certify that

(A) the provision mitigates direct effects clearly attributable to a provision changing outlays or revenues and both provisions together produce a net reduction in the deficit;

(B) the provision will result in a substantial reduction in outlays or a substantial increase in revenues during fiscal years after the fiscal years covered by the reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution;

(C) a reduction of outlays or an increase in revenues is likely to occur as a result of the provision, in the event of new regulations authorized by the provision or likely to be proposed, court rulings on pending litigation, or relationships between economic indices and stipulated statutory triggers pertaining to the provision, other than the regulations, court rulings or relationships currently projected by the Congressional Budget Office for scorekeeping purposes; or

(D) such provisions will be likely to produce a significant reduction in outlays or increases in revenues but, due to insufficient data, such reduction or increase cannot be reliably estimated.

(3) A provision reported by a committee shall not be considered extraneous under paragraph (1)(C) if

(A) the provision is an integral part of a provision or title, which if introduced as a bill or resolution would be referred to such committee, and the provision sets forth the procedure to carry out or implement the substantive provisions that were reported and which fall within the jurisdiction of such committee; or

(B) the provision states an exception to, or a special application of, the general provision or title of which it is a part and such general provision or title if introduced as a bill or resolution would be referred to such committee.

(c) Extraneous Materials.—Upon the reporting or discharge of a reconciliation bill or resolution pursuant to Section 310 in the Senate, and again upon the submission of a conference report on such reconciliation bill or resolution, the Committee on the Budget of the Senate shall submit for the record a list of material considered to be extraneous under subsections (b)(1)(A), (b)(1)(B), and (b)(1)(E) of this section to the instructions of a committee as provided in this section. The inclusion or exclusion of a provision shall not constitute a determination of extraneousness by the Presiding Officer of the Senate.

(d) Conference Reports.—When the Senate is considering a conference report on, or an amendment between the Houses in relation to, a reconciliation bill or reconciliation resolution pursuant to Section 310, upon—

(1) a point of order being made by an Senator against extraneous material meeting the definition of subsections (b)(1)(A), (b)(1)(B), (b)(1)(D), (b)(1)(E), or (b)(1)(F), and

(2) such point of order being sustained, such material contained in such conference report or amendment shall be deemed struck, and the Senate shall proceed, without intervening action or motion, to consider the question of whether the Senate shall recede from its amendment and concur with a further amendment, or concur in the House amendment with a further amendment, as the case may be, which further amendment shall consist of only that portion of the conference report or House amendment, as the case may be, not so struck. Any such motion in the Senate shall be debatable for 2 hours. In any case in which such point of order is sustained against a conference report (or Senate amendment derived from such conference report by operation of this subsection), no further amendment shall be in order.

(e) General Point of Order.—Notwithstanding any other law or rule of the Senate, it shall be in order for a Senator to raise a single point of order that several provisions of a bill, resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report violate this section. The Presiding Officer may sustain the point of order as to some or all of the provisions against which the Senator raised the point of order. If the Presiding Officer so sustains the point of order as to some of the provisions (including provisions of an amendment, motion, or conference report) against which the Senator raised the point of order, then only those provisions (including provisions of an amendment, motion, or conference report) against which the Presiding Officer sustains the point or order shall be deemed struck pursuant to this section. Before the Presiding Officer rules on such a point of order, any Senator may move to waive such a point of order as it applies to some or all of the provisions against which the point of order was raised. Such a motion to waive is amendable in accordance with the rules and precedents of the Senate. After the Presiding Officer rules on such a point of order, any Senator may appeal the ruling of the Presiding Officer on such a point of order as it applies to some or all of the provisions on which the Presiding Officer ruled.

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Acknowledgments

This report was written by [author name scrubbed], formerly a Specialist in American National Government at CRS. The analyst listed on the cover of this report, and under the "author contact information," is available to answer questions concerning the Senate's "Byrd Rule" and the content of this report.

Footnotes

1.

For further information on the reconciliation process, see CRS Report R44058, The Budget Reconciliation Process: Stages of Consideration, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].

2.

For additional information on reconciliation measures that became law, see CRS Report R40480, Budget Reconciliation Measures Enacted Into Law: 1980-2010, by [author name scrubbed].

3.

For a detailed legislative history of the Byrd rule, see the following print of the Senate Budget Committee: Budget Process Law Annotated—1993 Edition, by William G. Dauster, 103rd Cong., 1st sess., S. Prt. 103-49, October 1993, notes on pp. 229-246.

4.

See the Senate's consideration of and vote on the amendment in the Congressional Record, daily edition (October 24, 1985), pp. S14032-S14038.

5.

See the remarks of Senator Robert C. Byrd in the Congressional Record, daily edition (October 24, 1985), p. S14032.

6.

Some of the complexities of the Byrd rule are examined in: (1) Riddick's Senate Procedure (S.Doc. 101-28, 101st Cong., 2nd sess., 1992), by Floyd M. Riddick and Alan S. Frumin, pp. 624-626; and (2) Budget Process Law Annotated—1993 Edition, by William G. Dauster, op. cit., beginning on p. 198.

7.

Part of the Byrd rule, Section 313(a), also applies to reconciliation measures considered pursuant to Section 258C of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. This section, which never was invoked, provided for the consideration of reconciliation legislation in the fall in order to achieve deficit reductions that would obviate the need for an expected sequester under the original statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirement (or, previously, the deficit targets). The PAYGO requirement effectively expired at the end of the 107th Congress (see CRS Report RS21378, Termination of the "Pay-As-You-Go" (PAYGO) Requirement for FY2003 and Later Years, by [author name scrubbed]; out of print; available upon request). A new statutory PAYGO requirement was enacted in P.L. 111-139, but it does not involve Section 258C of the 1985 act. All of the reconciliation measures considered by the Senate thus far have originated pursuant to Section 310 of the CBA of 1974.

8.

In the Senate, many points of order under the CBA of 1974 require a three-fifths vote of the membership to waive (or to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the chair). Most of these three-fifths waiver requirements are temporary but are extended from time to time; in the case of the Byrd rule, the three-fifths waiver requirement is permanent.

9.

For an example of such a list, see the remarks of Senator Pete Domenici regarding the conference report on the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 in the Congressional Record, daily edition (July 31, 1997), pp. S8406-S8408.

10.

For example, see the lists provided by: (1) Chairman Pete Domenici and Ranking Minority Member James Exon regarding the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, inserted into the Congressional Record, daily edition (October 26, 1995), pp. S15832-S15834 and pp. S15834-S15840, respectively; and (2) Chairman Judd Gregg regarding the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, inserted into the Congressional Record, daily edition (November 8, 2005), pp. S12522-S12523, and Ranking Minority Member Kent Conrad, inserted into the Congressional Record, daily edition (November 2, 2005), pp. S12213-S12214. In some cases the lists have been fairly similar, but in other instances they have differed significantly.

11.

See the report of the Senate Budget Committee to accompany S.Con.Res. 18, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, FY1994 (S.Rept. 103-19, March 12, 1993), p. 49.

12.

The "budget window" refers to the period covered by the budget resolution, and to any reconciliation directives included therein and the resultant reconciliation legislation. Beginning in the late 1980s, the budget resolution is required to cover at a minimum the "budget year" (the fiscal year beginning on October 1 in the session that the budget resolution is adopted) and the four following fiscal years (the "outyears"). In addition, budget resolutions sometimes cover the "current year" (the fiscal year preceding the budget year) and up to five additional outyears. Accordingly, the longest budget window that has applied to a budget resolution and associated reconciliation legislation covered 11 years, including the current year.

13.

The Senate also considered two measures linked to the reconciliation process. On December 15, 1975, the Senate considered, amended, and passed H.R. 5559, the Revenue Adjustment Act of 1975, which reduced revenues by about $6.4 billion pursuant to a budget resolution instruction. The measure was not regarded as a reconciliation bill when it was considered by the House, but it was considered under reconciliation procedures in the Senate. The President vetoed the measure later in the year and the House sustained his veto. See the remarks of Senator Russell Long and the presiding officer on p. 40540 and the remarks of Senator Edmund Muskie and others on pp. 40544-40550 in the Congressional Record of December 15, 1975, regarding the status of H.R. 5559 as a reconciliation bill.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-369) was regarded as a reconciliation bill when it was considered in the House, but was stripped of that classification when it was considered in the Senate (in April and May of 1984). The House also has considered reconciliation measures that were not considered in the Senate.

For more information on the consideration of reconciliation measures, see CRS Report RL30458, The Budget Reconciliation Process: Timing of Legislative Action, by [author name scrubbed].

14.

The Byrd rule is only one of many point-of-order provisions in Titles III and IV of the CBA of 1974, as amended (2 U.S.C. 644). In some instances, points of order or waiver motions are made under the act by general reference only (such as a Senator raising a point of order "under Title III of the Act") rather than by specific reference to the provision(s) involved. When only general references are made, it often is impossible to determine (principally by reference to debate in the Congressional Record) which provisions of the act are involved. In addition, a provision or amendment may violate the Byrd rule and one or more other enforcement provisions; a Senator raising a point of order may cite one of the other enforcement provisions as the basis for the action. Consequently, this report reflects only those instances when specific reference was made to Section 313 of the act or to the Byrd rule and may undercount the number of actions potentially involving the rule.

15.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately determine the deterrent effect of the Byrd rule, so this aspect is not addressed in this report.

16.

See the conference report to accompany the FY1988 budget resolution, H.Con.Res. 93 (H.Rept. 100-175, June 22, 1987, pp. 17 and 36).

17.

The Senate agreed to the conference report accompanying COBRA of 1985 (H.R. 3128) on December 19, 1985; see the Congressional Record of that date at pp. 38503-38543. Later that day, the Senate adopted S.Res. 286, a measure making the Byrd rule applicable to the consideration of conference reports and amendments between the two chambers (pp. 38559-38560). Also that day, the House disagreed to the conference report on COBRA. Subsequently, the House and Senate engaged in an exchange of amendments in order to resolve their differences regarding the measure. The Senate considered the measure further on December 20, 1985 and several days in mid-March 1986 (despite the enactment of COBRA into law on April 7, 1986, the designation "1985" was retained in the act's title). Thus, the portion of the Byrd rule contained in S.Res. 286 was not in effect when the Senate considered and agreed to the conference report on COBRA, but it was in effect during Senate action on the subsequent amendment exchange with the House.

18.

See the Congressional Record (daily ed.) of October 13, 1989, p. S13349. The Senate leadership used an amendment for similar purposes during consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981.

19.

Senate actions on the two measures is discussed in CRS Report RL33132, Budget Reconciliation Legislation in 2005-2006 Under the FY2006 Budget Resolution, by [author name scrubbed] (out of print; available upon request).

20.

This requirement was added by Section 13214 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. Consequently, its first application was to consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

21.

See the discussion of "Preemptive Editing of the Conference Report" in Budget Process Law Annotated—1993 Edition, by William G. Dauster, op. cit., pp. 245-246. Also, see (1) Richard E. Cohen, "Running Up Against the 'Byrd Rule'," National Journal, September 4, 1993, p. 2151; (2) George Hager, "The Byrd Rule: Not an Easy Call," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, July 31, 1993, p. 2027; and (3) Mary Jacoby, "Senate Parliamentarian Purges Budget Bill of Measures That Could Violate Byrd Rule," Roll Call, August 5, 1993, p. 9.

22.

See the remarks of Senator Sasser in the Congressional Record, daily edition (August 6, 1993), p. S10662.

23.

See the remarks of Representative Rostenkowski in the Congressional Record, daily edition, (August 5, 1993), p. H6126. He discusses specific programs dropped from the conference report because of the Byrd rule p. H6124. Also, see the remarks that same day of Representatives de la Garza (p. H6143), Vento (p. H6235), and Stenholm (p. H6257).

24.

Letter from Representative Martin Olav Sabo to Representative Lee H. Hamilton, October 26, 1993, 2 pp.

25.

See Organization of the Congress, Final Report of the Senate Members of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, S.Rept. 103-215, vol. I, December 1993, pp. 14 and 15.

26.

The letter is discussed in: Karen Foerstel, "Byrd Rule War Erupts Once Again," Roll Call, February 24, 1994, pp. 1 and 13.

27.

See the following article for a discussion of the Sabo bill: Mary Jacoby, "Sabo Bill Would Kill Byrd Rule For Good," Roll Call, July 25, 1994, p. 12.

28.

See Sections 104 and 105 of H.Con.Res. 68, the FY2000 budget resolution (the conference report was H.Rept. 106-91, April 14, 1999), and Sections 103 and 104 of H.Con.Res. 290, the FY2001 budget resolution (the conference report was H.Rept. 106-577, April 12, 2000). The FY2001 budget resolution also included reconciliation instructions directing the House Ways and Means Committee to develop legislation reducing the debt held by the public.

29.

The instructions in the FY2000 budget resolution covered 10 fiscal years, while the instructions in the FY2001 budget resolution covered five fiscal years. The reconciliation instructions in the FY2000 budget resolution also provided for total revenue reductions of $778 billion over 10 years.

30.

Proceedings under this aspect of the Byrd rule, in the case of the Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999, occurred on July 28, 1999; see the remarks of Senators Roth, Moynihan, Conrad, Gramm, and others in the Congressional Record, daily edition (July 28, 1999), pp. S9478-S9484. With regard to the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, see the remarks of Senator Roth in the Congressional Record (July 14, 2000), pp. S6782-S6784.

31.

See, for example, the remarks of Senator Robert C. Byrd, "Reconciliation Process Reform," in the Congressional Record, daily edition (February 15, 2001), pp. S1532-S1536, and opening remarks of Senator Byrd and others during Senate consideration of H.R. 1836 in the Congressional Record, daily edition (May 17, 2001), p. S5028.

32.

See H.Rept. 108-71 (April 10, 2003).

33.

The reconciliation directives are set forth in Section 201 of H.Con.Res. 95; the Senate point of order is set forth in Section 202. A portion of the reconciled amounts is set forth as outlay increases in order to accommodate changes in tax programs (e.g., refundable tax credits) that are scored as outlays. Consequently, the aggregate instruction of $550 billion is actually $535 billion in revenue reductions and $15 billion in outlay increases in the House, and $522.524 billion in revenue reductions and $27.476 billion in outlay increases in the Senate.

34.

For further discussion of this matter, see CRS Report RL31902, Revenue Reconciliation Directives in the FY2004 Budget Resolution, by [author name scrubbed] (out of print; available upon request). Also, see (1) "Concessions to Moderates Imperil Early GOP Tax Cutting Accord," by Andrew Taylor, CQ Weekly, April 12, 2003; and (2) "Grassley Promises GOP Moderates Final Tax Cut Will Not Top $350 Billion," by Bud Newman, BNA's Daily Report for Executives, Monday, April 14, 2003, p. G-7.

35.

See the remarks of Senator Max Baucus in the Congressional Record, daily edition (April 11, 2003), pp. S5296-S5298, in which he inserts a letter from Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin to Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle regarding the potential application of the Byrd rule to the consideration of reconciliation legislation.

36.

See the remarks of Senator Grassley in the Congressional Record, daily edition (April 11, 2003), pp. S5295-S5296.

37.

See the CBO cost estimate on H.R. 2 (108th Cong.) of May 23, 2003, available at http://www.cbo.gov.

38.

Although the capital gains and dividends provisions would sunset on December 31, 2010, they would incur revenue losses in succeeding years (e.g., in FY2012, a $12.698 billion revenue loss for the capital gains provision and a $6.326 billion revenue loss for the dividends provision).

39.

The instructions included the House Education and Labor, House Energy and Commerce, and House Ways and Means Committees and the Senate Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees.

40.

One measure of the different scope of the two bills is that, in enrolled form, the health care and education reform bill was 906 pages in length and the reconciliation bill was 55 pages in length.

41.

For example, two of the amendments included tax-related provisions with offsets in the form of rescissions of appropriations provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 under the jurisdiction of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

42.

See the Congressional Record (daily ed.), March 25, 2010, p. S2086. In addition, Senator Chuck Grassley submitted for the record a list of five points of order, four of them involving the Byrd rule; the chair indicated that, had the points of order been raised, they would not have been sustained (see pp. S2084-S2085).