The Tea is Cooling: The First Session of the 113th Congress

Many pundits and commentators have been quick – perhaps even eager – to proclaim that the Tea Party is dead. For their part, voters have not always been inclined to agree. Candidates aligned with or reflecting many principles of this limited government movement have pulled out some stunning upsets during this election season. Chief among them is the historic, unprecedented primary-level defeat of a Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. And while the Tea Party’s impact on reducing Congressional spending agendas is still evident, results from the current Congress show that its effect may be cooling.

The highlights from NTUF’s BillTally report for the first session of the 113th Congress:

  • During the First Session of the 113th Congress, Representatives authored 496 spending bills and 112 savings bills. Senators drafted 332 increase bills and 56 savings bills. While the number of increases was the lowest seen since the 105th Congress, this is also the first time in several years that there were fewer cut bills introduced compared to the previous Congress.
  • The ratio of increase bills per cut bill introduced in the House shrunk from over 21:1 in the 110th Congress to 3.8:1 in the 112th Congress. This year saw the ratio climb slightly to 4.4:1.
  • In the Senate, the ratio of increases to cuts reached a high of 32:1 in the 108th Congress. That ratio steadily declined over each successive Congress, falling to 4.4:1 in the 112th Congress. During the current Congress, there were nearly 6 bills to raise spending for each bill that would reduce spending.
  • The House’s net legislative agenda would add a net of $1.17 trillion to the budget, or $9,571 per household - the net cost of the Senate’s legislation would add $620 billion ($5,059 per household).
  • The “Tea” may be cooling, but the average Tea Party Caucus member agenda, at $127 billion, still cut spending by a wider margin than members of other caucuses. The typical member of the Progressive Caucus would increase spending by $857 billion annually.
  • In the House, the average Democrat called for net spending hikes of $396.5 billion – the lowest such figure since the 107th Congress. This spending agenda would have boosted FY 2013’s total outlays by 11 percent.
  • The typical House Republican proposed, on net, $82.6 billion in cuts – down from a record $130.2 billion last Congress. The current total would have reduced spending by just over 2 percent.
  • The average Senate Democrat’s net agenda amounted to $18.3 billion in new spending, which would grow the budget by one half of a percentage point. This marks the Senate Democrats’ lowest recorded net spending agenda since the 104th Congress.
  • The average Senate Republican was a “net cutter,” with an agenda that would slash $159.1 billion from the budget. That amount would have shaved FY 2013 total outlays by 4.6 percent.
  • The number of would-be budget cutters fell to 249, from a high of 297 in the 112th Congress, reversing a multi-year trend.

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