BPC Action Applauds the Responsible Budgeting Act in Economics and Finance

BPC Action applauds the bipartisan introduction of the Responsible Budgeting Act (H.R. 6139)—led by Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Scott Peters (D-CA), Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA), and Bill Huizenga (R-MI)—to revamp how the debt limit is addressed. If enacted, this reform would avoid debt limit brinkmanship, and instead, produce a recurring, structured process focused on fiscal responsibility.

Specifically, the bill would provide two new avenues for temporarily suspending the debt limit:

If Congress passes a concurrent budget resolution that meets a certain fiscal threshold (reducing debt/GDP in the 10th year by at least 5 percentage points), it would automatically generate separate legislation to suspend the debt limit through the end of the following fiscal year. Only the president’s signature would be required for that suspension to go into effect.

If Congress has not acted on a budget resolution that meets the threshold by April 15 (the statutory deadline), or if the debt limit is close to being reached, the president would be granted the authority to request a suspension through the following fiscal year, which would go into effect unless Congress passed a resolution of disapproval within 30 days. In order for the president to use this authority, however, the debt limit suspension request to Congress would need to be accompanied by a legislative debt reduction proposal that meets the same threshold. This proposal—on a separate track from the debt limit suspension—would set off an integrated congressional process, managed by the budget committees and resulting in floor votes in each chamber on debt reduction legislation. (The 60-vote threshold to override a filibuster in the Senate would remain intact for this process.)

Notably, if it chose to do so, nothing would prevent Congress from addressing the debt limit through regular order.

“For the past decade, we at the Bipartisan Policy Center have highlighted the costs and risks associated with the federal debt limit. The Responsible Budgeting Act would ensure the debt limit never threatens our economy again, and at the same time, would provide an opportunity for substantive legislative debate over proposals to restore fiscal responsibility. This type of well-crafted bipartisan solution is a model for how we should tackle our economic challenges together,” says Bill Hoagland, Senior Vice President at BPC.

Importantly, the Responsible Budgeting Act guarantees a debate but not an outcome. It does not take the duty of legislating out of Congress’s hands. Rather, it provides a structured and non-risky venue for debate over policy options to address fiscal responsibility—an issue that perennially gets overshadowed.

BPC Action commends this bipartisan effort and stands ready to see this legislation enacted into law.