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Press Release


Study: Incoming House GOP Committee Chairs Have Legislative Agendas to Cut Budget an Average of $41 Billion

December 6, 2010
By Pete Sepp

(Alexandria, VA) – With the long-term outlook of the federal government painted red from deficits, will the new Republican majority be able to get the budget back in the black? Some interesting clues are offered in a National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) study of Committee leadership released today. NTUF determined that outgoing Democratic Chairs at 19 Committees with influence over parts of the budget supported legislation to boost federal spending by an average of over $800 billion, while incoming Republican Chairs would cut outlays by more than $40 billion.

     “The shift in political control over the House of Representatives will also lead to major shifts in the fiscal work-product most of its Committees will send to the floor,” said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and study author Demian Brady.  “The recent records of the incoming Committee Chairs indicate that taxpayers should see not just less spending coming from the legislative ‘workshops’ of the House, but possibly real attempts to pare it back.”

     The study utilizes the BillTally system to determine the dollar cost of the legislative agendas of the potential new Chairs in the next Congress. BillTally tabulates the cost or savings of every piece of spending legislation introduced in Congress and cross-indexes these figures with the sponsorship records of all Representatives and Senators. Figures are based on legislation introduced from the opening of the 111th Congress through the late-summer recess of 2010.

Among the findings of the study:

  • Each one of the 19 outgoing Democratic Chairs included in the NTUF analysis compiled net legislative agendas to increase annual federal spending, from a minimum of $10.0 billion (Armed Services head Ike Skelton) to a maximum of $1.463 trillion (Financial Services Chair Barney Frank). The average overall net spending hike (minus any offsetting cuts) this group advocated was $803.2 billion – significantly higher than the $500-plus billion average for all Democrats in the House.
  • At least 12 (possibly more) of the 19 incoming Republican Chairs sponsored bills whose net effect would lower federal outlays, proposing an average annual agenda to cut the budget by $40.9 billion – nearly in line with the $48.1 billion reduction that the average rank-and-file House Republican called for during the same period. Individual totals ranged from a net spending hike of $63.3 billion (Peter King, Homeland Security Committee) to a net reduction of $123.1 billion (Lamar Smith, Judiciary Committee).
  • Ten of the Democratic Chairs who will no longer be heading their panels are cosponsors of “single-payer” health care legislation, whose outlay costs dwarf those associated with the health reform bill enacted into law earlier this year.
  • The Republican Chairs of the Appropriations and the Energy and Commerce Committees could have agendas to raise or cut expenditures depending upon who finally gets the gavel. Another contested Chairmanship (Financial Services) has only “net spending cutters” vying for the leadership spot.

     “Next year the House GOP majority will have the chance to take taxing and spending policy in a different ‘new direction’ from the ‘new direction’ Democrats charted just a few years ago,” Brady concluded. “As BillTally shows, most signs point to a serious course correction toward spending restraint; still, how far House Republicans will be able to steer the budget depends not only on their commitment to the principles of the Tea Party wave that swept them into power, but also on their ability to find areas of agreement with the Senate and the President.”

     NTUF is the research and educational affiliate of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a non-profit citizen group. Note: NTUF Issue Brief 162, House Committee Leadership in the 112th Congress: Back in Black?, is available online at www.ntu.org.