H.Con.Res. 115, The First Concurrent Budget Resolution for FY 1982

This act aimed to restore Congress’s primacy in federal budgeting by requiring Congress to adopt a multi-year budget blueprint that would guide and constrain taxing and spending policy.  It required Congress to pass an initial budget resolution in May of each year and a second budget resolution in September.  If Congress failed to meet budget targets the law created a process called “reconciliation” by which Congress would enact changes in appropriations and, where necessary, public law to bring spending into line with the budget parameters.

In 1980 the Reagan administration sought to seize control of the budget process in order to impose its economic policies on the Congress.  Since the Republicans had gained a majority in the Senate in the 1980 elections, the fight would be centered in the House of Representatives.  As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Jim Jones was responsible for preparing the Democrats’ budget plan and guiding it to adoption in the House of Representatives.

Caricature of Rep. James R. Jones and his budget. The cartoon, which compares Jones to Sen. Ted Kennedy, appeared in the Tulsa World. James R. Jones Collection, Gifts and Ephemera, Box 1, Folder 3, the Carl Albert Center Congressional Archives, the University of Oklahoma

During the early months of 1981 Jones engaged in a dialogue with OMB Director David Stockman in hopes of seeking accommodation with the administration.  But when President Reagan’s public approval ratings soared in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on March 30, 1981, Jones told the class, all communications with the administration were cut off.  The battle lines were drawn and it remained to see who would win.  Reagan did.

Legislative History  Student Narratives  H.Con.Res. 115