Sen. Carper Introduces Bipartisan Budget Enforcement Bill

Carper Bill Would Help President Enforce Fiscal Responsibility, Cut Wasteful Spending

WASHINGTON – Faced with exploding budget deficits, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) today introduced bipartisan legislation with 20 other senators to help Congress and the President keep federal spending in check.

The Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool (BELT) Act of 2009 would give the President the ability to cut spending from the annual appropriations bills, without having to veto the entire bill. During the campaign and at the introduction of his FY2010 Budget Proposal, President Obama discussed how such powers would allow him to cut wasteful and irresponsible spending.

“In these difficult financial times, it is vital that the federal government spend tax-payer dollars responsibly and efficiently,” said Sen. Carper. “My legislation would give President Obama the budget scalpel that he has asked for to cut unnecessary and wasteful spending.”

Under the bill:


– The president would have three days after signing spending legislation to submit a list of proposed cuts for Congress to consider. Within 10 days of submission, the Senate and the House would vote on the president’s list, which would NOT be amendable. A simple majority of both chambers would have to approve the list for it to become law. If it does not pass one of the chambers, no changes are made to the bill.

 – Authorized programs cannot be cut by more than 25 percent, but unauthorized programs—including unauthorized earmarks—can be eliminated entirely.

 – The president cannot propose to cut mandatory spending, such as Medicare or Social Security, or tax cuts. 

The BELT Act sunsets in four years, giving Congress the ability to re-assess how this new budget tool is working and make any necessary improvements to this spending procedure.

“Americans all over the country are tightening their belts, saving more and making sure they can afford everything they buy. It’s time the federal government did the same. This bill will help us spend precious tax-payer money more effectively and bring more transparency and accountability back to the appropriations process,” said Sen. Carper.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).