Colorado U.S. SenatColorado U.S. Senatorial Candidate Spending Analysis – Mark Udallorial Candidate Spending Analysis – Mark Udall

Total Net Spending Agenda: $38.588 billion


Economy, Transportation, and Infrastructure: $16 million

A. Increase Regulatory Oversight of Rail Transport of Oil:

“I’ll continue to press [the U.S. Department of Transportation] to follow through [on proposed rail transport regulations] and to make sure they’re doing everything possible to reduce the risk of fuel train disasters in Colorado and across the country.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: In July, 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed new regulations for railcars transporting oil and gas products. Rules included lower speed limits, new brake requirements, increased sturdiness standards for tanks, and a phase-out plan for older tank cars. It is unclear if the regulations would require additional personnel or otherwise increase the DOT’s administrative costs.

A related measure was included in President Obama’s FY 2015 budget proposal, which called for a $40 million fund to support inspections, research, development, testing, and responses related to safe shipping of crude oil by rail and truck.

B. Provide Permanent Funding for Emergency Watershed Protection:

“We need to make [emergency watershed protection] permanent. We need to put it in place so it’s available not just for our state but for the entire nation.”

Cost: $13 million ($52 million over four years).

Source: Senator Udall is the sponsor of S. 2163 (113th Congress), a bill to establish an emergency watershed protection disaster assistance fund to be available to the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance for any natural disaster. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is available.

C. Vote for the Paycheck Fairness Act:

“We ought to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act … .”

Cost: $3 million ($15 million over five years).

Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 84 (113th Congress), the Paycheck Fairness Act. Senator Udall is a cosponsor. The bill would enhance regulations pertaining to equal pay for women. The text of the bill authorizes $15 million for compliance training, a grant program for negotiation skills training for girls and women, and for research, education and outreach. NTUF assumes the outlays would occur over five years.


Education, Science, and Research: $16.9 billion

A. Fully Fund Pell Grants:

“We ought to make sure Pell Grants are fully funded.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear how Senator Udall proposes to change current funding levels of Pell Grants. According to CBO, the federal government spent $26.3 billion on Pell Grants in 2014, and the funding provided by Congress for the program over recent years has exceeded its costs: it currently has an $8.1 billion surplus.

B. Make College More Affordable:

“Mark knows we must work to make college more affordable and invest in education and job training to ensure Colorado’s workers are positioned to win the global economic race. With interest rates remaining low, Mark introduced a bill that would allow Americans to save money by refinancing their student loan debt.”

“… I joined Senator Elizabeth Warren and other U.S. Senate colleagues to introduce a deficit-neutral plan to give student loan borrowers the option to refinance their loans at this year’s lower rates. … Sign [the Lower Student Loan Interest Rates petition] and call on Congress to give student loan borrowers a much-deserved break.”

Cost: $16.9 billion ($50.6 billion over three years).

Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 2292 (113th Congress), the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The bill would allow individuals to refinance their federal or private student loans as new federal direct loans. Some of the new outlays would be offset by a 30 percent “Fair Share Tax,” imposed on individuals with annual incomes of $1 million or more; however, revenues are not scored as direct reductions in spending. Senator Udall is a cosponsor of the bill. A CBO cost estimate is available.


Energy, Agriculture, and the Environment: Unknown

A. Implement an All-of-the-Above Energy Policy:

“I’ve always been an all of the above guy on energy. There are many, many upsides to exporting natural gas in the right way. Natural gas is an important fuel to bridge our way to a more renewable energy future.”

Cost: Unknown.


  • Natural Gas Export: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 2494 (113th Congress), the Natural Gas Export Promotion Act of 2014. Under current law, export permits must be approved by the Office of Fossil Energy in the Department of Energy. Exports to nations that have free trade agreements with the United States are automatically permitted. The bill would expedite the decision-making process as to whether or not American natural gas can be exported to additional countries. Senator Udall is the sponsor of the bill. It is a regulatory measure and would not significantly affect federal spending.
  • Renewable Energy: In the 113th Congress, Senator Udall is a cosponsor of one bill related to renewable energy. S. 1595, the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2013, would require energy producers to generate 25 percent of their output from wind, solar, and other renewable sources (including tidal, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower) by 2025. Companies would be awarded renewable energy credits, which are scored as new spending, that could be sold, exchanged, and traded. A cost estimate is not currently available.

B. Incentivize Energy Conservation:

“What we ought to do is make sure our Tax Code incents conservation, provides some ways in which you reap some benefits from saving energy.” (0:30)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Typically, such Tax Code incentives are provided in the form of bonds or tax credits. Bond programs are designed to encourage investment, rather than offer direct federal funding to energy-efficiency activities. There are two recent energy credits: the non-business energy property tax credit expired at the end of 2013, and the residential energy efficient property credit is currently available through 2016.

Most bonds and tax credits only affect federal revenues but there are “refundable” credits that can be claimed above and beyond a filer’s tax obligation, thus resulting in outlays. It is unclear whether or not Senator Udall is advocating the use of refundable credits.

C. Make Browns Canyon a National Monument:

“Another area on which I’ve focused on our recreation economy … is the effort to see the Browns Canyon as designated as a national monument.” (0:23)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 1794 (113th Congress), the Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013. The bill would establish the Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado and place administration of approximately 22,000 acres under the Bureau of Land Management. Senator Udall is the sponsor of the bill. A cost estimate is not currently available.

D. Protect Natural Resources:

“[Mark] will fight to protect Colorado’s wilderness and natural resources to ensure that our kids and grandkids have the same economic and recreational opportunities we have.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: It is unclear what policies Senator Udall would advocate, in addition to related items listed above, to achieve these goals. He has sponsored or cosponsored 27 bills related to natural resources. One such bill is S. 526 (113th Congress), the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2013. The bill would make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations for conservation purposes. The measure is revenue-based and would not affect outlays.


Government Reform: Unknown

A. Support the Simpson-Bowles Plan:

“I’d like to see [Congressman Gardner] join [me] in supporting wholeheartedly the Simpson-Bowles plan. … We have to get our fiscal house in order and one of the ways we do that is through supporting the Simpson-Bowles approach [which would invest in infrastructure].” (14:35, 47:30)

Cost: Unknown.

Note: In 2010, President Obama created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which was co-chaired by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and former Democratic White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. The Simpson-Bowles Commission was charged with identifying “policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long term” in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Its final report, The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, recommended measures to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over four years and to eventually reduce the federal debt to 40 percent of GDP by 2035 through spending reductions, tax increases, and entitlement reforms.

Regarding infrastructure “investments,” the Simpson-Bowles report also recommended a 15 cents-per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax to “fully fund” the Transportation Trust Fund, and it also called for the creation of a national infrastructure bank “leveraging private capital.” A related Administration proposal for establishing an American Infrastructure and Financing Authority was estimated by CBO to have a $1.5 billion subsidy cost over its first five years.

In the 112th and 113th Congresses, Members introduced four bills that outlined or directly mirrored several of the recommendations in the Simpson-Bowles report. Senator Udall did not support any of those proposals. He did vote in favor of S.J.Res. 24, a joint resolution proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The Resolution would require a balanced federal budget each fiscal year unless overridden by a three-fifths vote by Congress. Because the budgetary impact of the amendment proposed in S.J.Res. 24 would be conditional on the financial circumstances of the federal government each year, and because resolutions require further action before becoming legally binding, NTUF does not score such measures.

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles also went on to found the nonprofit group Moment of Truth, and in February, 2013 produced an updated version of their plan that included similar proposals as the original report.

It is unclear whether Senator Udall is calling for policies that were included in either the new or old Simpson-Bowles recommendations to be introduced in legislative form, or if he is proposing to follow the “Simpson-Bowles approach” (via a mix of spending reductions, tax increases, and long-term reforms) as a model for future actions.


Health Care: Unknown

A. Expand Access to Contraception:

“[Mark] will always … fight to expand access to contraception.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: Senator Udall is a cosponsor of S. 2687, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014, which would expand standard and emergency contraceptive coverage to female members of the military and their dependents enrolled in TRICARE, the health care program administered by the Department of Defense. A cost estimate is currently not available.

It is unclear whether Senator Udall is calling for additional new spending related to contraception via grants or through coverage under other federal health programs including Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.


Homeland Security and Law Enforcement: $21.672 billion

A. Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

“… Mark believes comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority … . … He also supports the [Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM)] Act because young people who know no other home than America should have the opportunity to fully contribute to our communities, economy, and national security and eventually be eligible for citizenship.”

Cost: $20.2 billion ($101 billion over five years).

Source: S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, was passed by the Senate in June 2013. The bill would streamline and overhaul the immigration system and increase border security and infrastructure. A CBO estimate of the bill as passed is available. Senator Udall voted in favor of the bill.

Note: The DREAM Act is included in S. 744 but its cost is not broken down in the CBO report for that bill. In the 111th Congress, the DREAM Act was introduced as a standalone bill and was scored by CBO as a $257 million five-year increase. This figure has been adjusted for inflation.

B. Pass the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act:

“The DISCLOSE Act would crack down on the corrupt dark money in our elections and restore integrity to our democracy. It would force special interest groups to reveal the identity of their big donors – currently shrouded in mystery. Citizens United already altered the national landscape in 2010 and allowed outside groups to spend virtually endless amounts of secret money to influence our elections. Let’s stop Citizens United dead in its tracks before it can buy Colorado’s elections too.”

Cost: $2 million ($10 million over five years).

Source: S. 2516, the DISCLOSE Act of 2014, would require additional reporting related to campaign spending. A CBO cost estimate is available for a previous House version. Senator Udall is a cosponsor of the bill.

C. Streamline Natural Disaster Recovery:

“… Mark is now leading the charge to simplify wildfire recovery by ensuring the government approaches them as they do hurricanes and tornadoes.”

“Using wildfire mitigation funds to backfill firefighting costs robs Peter to pay Paul, and progressively leaves us in worse shape every year to contain fires. Our forests and public land managers know it is cheaper to mitigate wildfire risks than to fight costly blazes, but our budgeting process does not reflect this fact.”

Cost: $1.47 billion ($7.35 billion over five years).

Source: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 1875 (113th Congress), the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013. The bill would create a separate budget account for any firefighting-related spending above 70 percent of the average during the previous ten years. The funds in that account would be available to the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior solely for firefighting activities. NTUF determined the cost based on the text of the legislation and information provided by its original sponsor. Senator Udall is a cosponsor of the bill.


Veterans: Unknown

A. Support Veterans:

“Mark works tirelessly to ensure all Colorado veterans are treated with [the] dignity and respect that they are owed.”

Cost: Unknown.

Note: The omnibus appropriations bill passed in January, 2014 included an authorization of $294 million to help the Department of Veterans Affairs reduce the claims backlog, upgrade IT systems, and improve employee training.

In August, 2014, H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 was signed into law. The bill authorized staff increases at the Department of Veterans Affairs, expansion of new and existing medical facilities, private medical care for some veterans, and in-state tuition using Post-9/11 GI Bill funds for qualifying veterans. CBO estimated that H.R. 3230 would increase spending by a net $12.6 billion over five years. Senator Udall voted in favor of the bill.

Senator Udall has also been a cosponsor of a number of bills in the 113th Congress to provide assistance to veterans and their families, including:

  • S. 373, the Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2013, which would make a service member’s legal spouse eligible to receive military or veteran benefits. A cost estimate is not currently available.
  • S. 700, the Troop Talent Act of 2013, which would require military branches to provide personnel with equivalent civilian credentialing opportunities during training, open educational assistance for civilian certification or licensing for veterans, and reestablish the Professional Certification and Licensure Advisory Committee in the Department of Veterans Affairs. A cost estimate is not currently available.
  • S. 871, the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013, which includes expanded services for veterans who are victims of sexual assault. A cost estimate of the bill and the veterans-related provisions is not currently available.


Fiscal Notes:

“Our future depends on finding solutions that get our federal spending and debt under control. That’s why Mark introduced a Constitutional amendment that requires the federal government to balance its budget every year, fought to give presidents of both parties a line-item veto, and led the successful effort to ban Congressional earmarks which reduces wasteful government spending.”

“… I’m teaming up with Sen. Cory Booker and Progressives United, to call on Congress to support the Minimum Wage Fairness Act … .”

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 1737 (113th Congress), the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. CBO determined that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, and then pegging it to inflation thereafter, would increase federal spending by $2 million over five years, which does not meet the budget threshold of the BillTally system. New costs would be in the form of higher wages for fewer than 5,000 federal employees. Senator Udall is not a cosponsor of the bill.

In a 2014 report on the effects of a minimum wage increase, CBO noted that “the net effect on the federal budget of raising the minimum wage would probably be a small decrease in budget deficits for several years but a small increase in budget deficits thereafter. It is unclear whether the effect for the coming decade as a whole would be a small increase or a small decrease in budget deficits.” CBO makes special note of the proposal’s potential impact on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is refundable and is counted as spending, because many families are currently within the EITC phase-out range and with an income increase would become ineligible for the credit. CBO also makes note that increasing the minimum wage would reduce employment by about 500,000 workers.

“… I am the author of a Balanced Budget Amendment that’s balanced and that will work.” (14:30)

“Colorado needs a long-term solution to permanently fund the [Payments in Lieu of Taxes] program and avoid the perennial uncertainty of the federal budgeting process.”

“We also ought to make sure we’ve got the production tax credit for wind extended.” (0:40)

Note: The production tax credit is available to renewable energy producers, including wind and solar companies. It would only affect revenues, not outlays.

“Mark believes we need to promote local small businesses and foster innovation to continue attracting new businesses to Colorado. Tax credits should go to middle class families and Colorado small businesses, not giant corporations shipping jobs overseas.”

Note: Related legislation has been introduced in the form of S. 2569 (113th Congress), the Bring Jobs Home Act. The bill would grant tax credits to businesses insourcing personnel or resources to domestic locations and deny similar credits to outsourcing firms. Senator Udall is a cosponsor of the bill. It would only affect revenues, not outlays.

“... [W]e owe it to our children not to pass on to them debt that they didn’t incur.” 15:27

“… I’m joining with a group of my colleagues in Congress to call for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and bring transparency to our elections.”