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PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY--FISCAL YEAR 2013 BCA SEQUESTRATION
Mr. CONRAD. Madam President, I come to the floor today to clear up some confusion with respect to the Budget Control Act of 2011. Some have suggested that the Budget Control Act indirectly authorized the Senate to use a fast-track process to modify the across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect next year due to failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Madam President, if that claim were true, it would result in a fundamental change in Senate procedures and prerogatives. However, it is clear in looking at both the statutory language and Congress's intent in passing the Budget Control Act that this claim is completely without merit.
First, let's look at what the law actually says. The key provision at issue is section 258(a) of the Deficit Control Act of 1985. Section 258(a) would allow the majority leader to introduce a joint resolution to modify or provide an alternative to a sequestration order--and I quote--``issued under Section 254.'' That joint resolution could not be filibustered and would pass the Senate with a simple majority vote. The sequestration orders under section 254 were put in place two decades ago to enforce deficit targets and discretionary spending limits that have long since expired.
A sequestration order under the Budget Control Act is not an order issued under section 254. The Budget Control Act created a new sequestration process under a completely different section of the law: section 251(a). Section 251(a) explicitly authorized a new set of Presidential sequestration orders in fiscal year 2013 for both discretionary and direct spending, and did so without any reference at all to the old section 258(a) procedures. The statutory language is clear, therefore, that these old procedures do not apply to sequestration under the Budget Control Act.
It is also clear that Congress never intended for section 258(a) procedures to apply. There was no discussion of this issue on the floor of either House. There was no discussion of this in the Budget Control Act negotiations between congressional Republicans and the White House, and there was no discussion of this among Democratic Senators. Moreover, the Budget Control Act and the Deficit Control Act of 1985 are completely separate budget enforcement mechanisms enacted 26 years apart and under entirely different circumstances.
Simply put, there is zero evidence of any congressional attempt to apply the 258 procedures to the Budget Control Act sequestration. In order to confirm this for the Record, I would like to pose a parliamentary inquiry to the Presiding Officer.
Madam President, is it correct that section 258(a) of the Deficit Control Act of 1985 does not apply to the fiscal year 2013 sequestration?
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