How Enacted Reconciliation Bills Have Changed the Deficit

Budget reconciliation bills have been used to reduce spending, cut taxes, raise revenues, increase the debt limit (i.e., in 1990, 1993, and 1997), or some combination of each of these options. 

Since the special process was created by the enactment of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (CBA) budget reconciliation has been used to increase deficits over the immediate budget windows by $1.812 trillion in current year dollars.  

The primary objective of budget reconciliation is to provide a fast track process to bring current law into alignment with the assumptions about current law made by the congressional budget. However, additional informal and formal rules governing the budget process (e.g., the Byrd Rule) are intended to limit changes that increase the deficit. 

Prior to the codification of the Byrd Rule in the 1990 Omnibus, which is intended to prohibit provisions in reconciliation bills that increase the deficit, reconciliation bills reduced the cumulative deficit over the relavent budget windows by $879 billion. Since the codification of the Byrd Rule, reconciliation bills have increased the deficit over the relavent budget windows by $2.691 trillion.