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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate voted in favor of a budget resolution this week that clearly outlines funding priorities for the coming year, would set up an emergency savings account of $90 billion, and would cut the deficit in half by 2009, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

Enzi, a member of the Budget Committee, voted in favor of the bill the Senate passed by a vote of 51-49.

Enzi said the budget resolution is a tool to rein in spending, outline clear funding objectives and set the framework for the authorization and appropriations steps in the budget process.

“The Senate sets a budget for the same reasons individuals and families set a budget: to plan future spending and anticipate costs for the coming months. This budget sets the country on a course of savings as well as preparation for disasters down the road,” Enzi said.

Special Reserve Account

A savings account of $90 billion would be created to help pay for costs inflicted because of natural disasters, terrorist acts or any unforeseen tragedy that is an emergency.

“This reserve fund is a key part of this budget. It’s a sound fiscal strategy that we have not been making use of enough in the past. Every year we have disasters and different emergencies that take billions of dollars out of the federal treasury, but these emergency appropriations are not counted as part of the regular budget so people aren’t getting a true picture of the depth of spending and debt. This emergency fund changes that,” Enzi said. “With this emergency fund we are planning ahead for inevitable disaster spending and just as importantly any funds we may need to spend beyond what is in the reserve fund will require 60 votes to pass. The additional spending will also count against our overall budget numbers to keep accounting honest. We will do away with the second set of books where we’ve been hiding emergency spending.”

Coal Research Funding a Priority

Enzi was pleased to have convinced fellow Budget Committee members to recognize the importance of coal research by inserting language in the committee’s official report.

The report reads, “Committee recognizes the important role of coal (our most abundant domestic energy source and primary fuel for electricity generation) and coal technologies in helping America become energy independent. The Committee recognizes the success of the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) and urges funding levels that put this program back on track to meet the government's $2 billion funding commitment to CCPI by 2010. The Committee also recognizes the FutureGen Project and the advanced coal research program and urges additional adequate funding for these coal research programs as well.”

Enzi hopes appropriators will take their cue from the Budget Committee and provide the money necessary for the project.

Reducing the deficit

The Budget Committee’s plan would decrease the deficit.

“Any sound budget should have a plan to decrease deficit. This budget would decrease the deficit by half by 2009 and help stabilize spending,” Enzi said.

Enzi said many people confuse the budget process with the authorization and appropriations process.

“What the budget does is set up spending targets and limits. After those are established specific committees arrange spending within the target for their special priorities. The last step comes when the appropriations committees spend the money,” said Enzi.

The Senate Budget Committee passed the budget resolution by a vote of 11-10 on March 10. It will now be reconciled with the House version of the budget.