I TAKE special pleasure today in signing H.R. 7130, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974. I commend the Congress for this landmark legislation, and I pledge the full support of the executive branch in helping fulfill the great promise of this bill.
In each of my five budget messages, I have urged the Congress to review and reform its procedures for considering the Federal budget and pledged the support and cooperation of this Administration in achieving this vital national goal. During the past year, the Congressional committees concerned worked energetically and effectively with this in mind. H.R. 7130 is the result.
Under this legislation, the Congress will, for the first time, focus on overall budget totals early in the legislative process and then relate individual appropriation items to each other within a general set of spending priorities.
Budget committees in the House and Senate, assisted by a new Congressional Budget Office, will be established to develop overall spending levels and priorities.
A tight timetable is established for Congressional action on authorizing legislation and appropriation bills, and a reconciliation process is provided to bring appropriation bills into line with prescribed overall budget totals.
In short, this bill will allow the Congress to step up to full and equal responsibility for controlling Federal expenditures.
Prior to the enactment of this bill, the Congress has had to consider a large number of separate measures with no system for establishing priorities relating to an overall spending goal. This system did not impose sufficient disciplines on the Congress to stop the passage of pork-barrel legislation or to resist the pressure of special interest groups seeking a disproportionate share of the tax dollar. Costly programs could be enacted without adequate consideration of their added burden to the taxpayer. This lack of discipline in Congressional procedures has been one of the major factors behind the sizable increases in Federal spending over the past decade.
The Congress has wisely recognized these weaknesses and taken steps to correct them through the passage of this legislation.
There are provisions in this bill I hope will be simplified if the requirements imposed by them prove to be restrictive. The impoundment control provisions, in particular, may well limit the ability of the Federal Government to respond promptly and effectively to rapid changes in economic conditions.
Nevertheless, this bill represents a major step toward reform of the Congressional budgetary system. Its enactment is especially timely, because an excessive rate of inflation makes the need for careful consideration and control over Government spending more crucial than ever. Already the Congress has enacted, or has pending, programs which could add some $4 billion to our 1975 budget proposals of $305 billion. I will have no choice but to veto bills which substantially exceed my budget.
The 1976 budget also gives us the opportunity to work together to face our fiscal responsibilities. In the near future, I will send to each department and agency their preliminary budget guidance for 1976. It will reflect a balanced budget in 1976. To achieve this balance, I plan to propose a broad range of legislation which will be needed to cut back individual programs.
I am confident that the Congress will assist me in this effort to keep spending from exceeding my proposed budget levels. H.R. 7130 will permit the high level of cooperation which will be required to achieve this critical goal.