Cap Exemptions – Emergencies, Disasters, OCO

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Discretionary appropriations may be designated as “emergencies” and therefore exempt from the budget enforcement limits.   Emergency designations are provided for by Section 251(b)(2)(A)-(D) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (BBEDCA) and include the following:

  • Appropriations designated as disaster relief.
  • Appropriations designated as emergency requirements;
  • Appropriations designated as Overseas Contingency Operations;
  • Appropriations for continuing disability reviews and redeterminations (because the objective of such appropriations are to reduce Federal spending); and
  • Appropriations for health care fraud and abuse control (because the objective of such appropriations are to reduce Federal spending).

The BBEDCA does not limit the amount of budget authority that can be designated as emergency
requirements or for OCO each fiscal year, nor does it specify the types of activities that
are eligible for such designations.

Budget authority eligible for the disaster relief designation is for the cost of activities carried out
pursuant to a declaration of a major disaster under the Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. 5122(2)).

Section 314(d) of the Congressional Budget Act allows House amendments to strike amounts that are designated as an emergency in appropriations measures or amendments, notwithstanding their budgetary effects.

In the Senate, amounts that are designated as an emergency are subject to a point of order
under Section 314(e). That point of order may be waived by a three-fifths vote of the Senate. If
the point of order is not waived and the presiding officer sustains the point of order, the
designation is stricken, and the measure or amendment may be vulnerable to the various
enforceable spending limits.

Source:  CRS Report R42388

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