Study: Combined Agenda of 113th Congress Starts with a $1.3 Trillion Bang, Ignited by Push for Single-Payer Health Care

(Alexandria, VA) -- Today, National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released a special “BillTally” report on the 113th Congress’ first six months which reveals a slowed interest in authoring budget cuts as some lawmakers renewed a push for “single-payer” healthcare. Taken together, all the legislation introduced in the House and Senate would add a net of $1.28 trillion to the federal budget ($1.74 trillion of spending increases minus $453 billion of decreases).

So far in their first session the House and Senate have combined to introduce five spending increase bills for every cut bill. That, despite the Senate’s proposals (not including overlapping legislation introduced in both chambers) amounting to a net savings of $47 billion.

NTUF’s research indicates these initial trends could hold for the entire 113th Congress unless they change very soon. In the previous Congress, 53 percent of savings legislation had been introduced by the six-month mark; a further 77 percent introduced by the end of the first year.

NTUF Director of Research Demian Brady explained: “Our BillTally special report adds even more weight to the impending budget discussions taking place this fall and winter – the data indicates that if Congress does not take a sharp turn toward budgetary savings early in the process, lawmakers are likely to maintain their current spending course.”

Here are the key numbers:

  • During the current Congress, legislation to spend was introduced by a 5 to 1 ratio over budget savings bills – for a total of 554 increases to 114 cuts. The 112th House and Senate offered 3.9 and 4.6 increase bills for every cut, respectively.
  • For each dollar of budget cuts, Congress proposed $3.83 in spending.
  • Single-payer health care in the House made up $1.16 trillion of their $1.2 trillion total unique spending agenda.
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would reduce outlays by up to $63.9 billion per year, the third-largest savings proposal (behind plans to reform the tax system’s budgetary costs and create an across-the-board rescission process).
  • Bills that would repeal or delay the “sequester” (created by the Budget Control Act) would add between $852 million and $21 billion to the budget, depending on their exact makeup.

Brady concluded, “Although the single-payer healthcare plan favored by a contingent in the House drastically increased the amount of Congress’s overall budget agenda in dollars, the rise in the total number of bills to hike spending show the bulk of Congress’ day-in-day-out work has still favored adding to the budget.”

BillTally is the most methodical and comprehensive study of Congressional spending legislation. Since 1991, the NTUF project has computed a “net annual agenda” based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or co-sponsorship of legislation. This unique approach 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, Congress Members’ offices, or are calculated from neutral data. Read the full report at