New Congress Authoring More Spending-Cut Bills than Predecessors, but Budget Boosts Still Dominate Agendas, Analysis Shows

(Alexandria, VA) -- Now that Congress is back in session after its annual August recess, how is the new Democratic majority living up to its pledges to reimpose "fiscal discipline" and to lead America in a "new direction"? Fresh data from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's (NTUF's) BillTally program shows that "new direction" to be confusing to follow for taxpayers seeking a downward change in the demand for new federal spending.

"Both House and Senate Members introduced more bills for federal budget savings in the 110th Congress than they have in previous pre-recess periods," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and BillTally director Demian Brady. "Nonetheless, the huge abundance of spending-hike bills continues to cast doubt over whether Washington will navigate the budget process to avoid bigger deficits and higher taxes." A sneak peak of the upcoming study shows that:

  • For each bill introduced in the Senate that would reduce federal spending, there were over 30 bills to raise spending -- an improvement from the ratio of nearly 37 increases for each cut in the first 8 months of the 109th Congress. The House ratio of increase to decrease bills was 20 to 1, a slight drop from 21 to 1 in the 109th Congress.
  • Members of the House introduced 39 savings bills through August of this year -- the most since 72 were introduced to kick off the 106th Congress. Among individuals, 3 Democrats and 31 Republicans sponsored or cosponsored zero savings bills, while 123 Democrats and 33 Republicans supported at least 5 or more bills to reduce spending.
  • Roughly one-third of the Senate, including 24 Republicans and 8 Democrats, did not sponsor or cosponsor a single one of the 17 savings bills authored in that chamber. Only 2 Senators, both Democrats, sponsored 5 or more spending-cut bills.

"Is the needle on the nation's fiscal compass swinging south, toward lower federal expenditures?" Brady asked. "There are signs it may be doing so, but without additional attention from policymakers toward more balanced agendas, taxpayers who hope Congress will trim overall spending may be wandering in the wilderness for some time to come."

Since 1991 BillTally has computed a "net annual agenda cost" for each Congress Member based on individual sponsorships or cosponsorships of legislation. The study provides an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committees, party leaders, and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates for bills are obtained from third-party sources or are calculated from neutral data.

NTUF is the non-partisan research arm of the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union, a citizen group founded in 1969. Note: BillTally reports for previous Congresses as well as a list of the savings bills identified in Congress through the August recess are available at A complete NTU Foundation BillTally report on the spending and savings bills will be available soon after Members' offices have a period to review their data.