Legislation Enacted in the Second Session of the 116th Congress That Affects Mandatory Spending or Revenues

Unless this report indicates otherwise, all years referred to are federal fiscal years, which run from October 1 to September 30 and are designated by the calendar year in which they end. Numbers in the text and tables may not add up to totals because of rounding.

This Congressional Budget Office report summarizes the agency’s estimates of the effects on mandatory spending or revenues of authorizing legislation that was enacted during the second session of the 116th Congress (January 3, 2020, through January 3, 2021).1 The estimates are for the enacted versions of the relevant legislation. CBO prepared each estimate when the legislation was last considered by the Congress, and except for some provisions related to unemployment insurance, the agency measured costs and revenues against the baseline projections used for budget enforcement by the House and Senate Committees on the Budget.2 Estimates of changes to tax law were provided by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. For consistency, each estimate covers the same period as the one CBO used for the corresponding cost estimate during the session.

According to CBO’s estimates, the effects on rev­enues and mandatory spending of laws enacted during the second session of the 116th Congress will increase budget deficits in fiscal year 2020 and cumulatively over the 2020–2030 period. In total, CBO estimates, those laws will add about $2.8 trillion to the cumulative deficit over that period—the net result of a $634 billion reduction in revenues and a $2.2 trillion increase in outlays (see Table 1).

Table 1.

Total Estimated Effects on Mandatory Spending and Revenues of Laws Enacted in the Second Session of the 116th Congress

Billions of Dollars

Data sources: Congressional Budget Office; staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. See www.cbo.gov/publication/57084#data.

Numbers in the table may not add up to totals because of rounding.

* = between zero and $500 million.

Two laws—Public Law 116-136 (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act) and P.L. 116-260 (the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021)—account for $2.3 trillion (or roughly 80 percent) of the estimated increase in deficits over the 2020–2030 period.3 The CARES Act established and expanded spending and revenue policies to provide assistance to individuals, to businesses, and to state, local, and tribal governments in response to the 2020–2021 coronavirus pandemic. P.L. 116-260 provided further assistance to nonfederal entities in response to the pandemic and made changes to many other federal programs.

Two supplemental tables that provide details about the estimated budgetary effects of each law are posted along with this report (see www.cbo.gov/publication/57084). Supplemental Table 1 lists the laws enacted during the second session of the 116th Congress by date of enactment and provides their estimated effects over the 2020–2030 period. Each entry lists the number of the underlying bill and, when possible, supplies a link to the relevant cost estimate on CBO’s website. The amounts in a referenced cost estimate may differ from the amounts shown in the table because the enacted version of the bill may differ from the version CBO initially estimated.

Supplemental Table 2 lists the 31 laws enacted during the second session of the 116th Congress that CBO estimated would have insignificant budgetary effects—that is, laws that would increase or decrease annual and cumulative deficits by less than $500,000 over the 2020–2030 period. Those laws also are listed by date of enactment; because their effects are relatively small, the table does not provide links to the relevant cost estimates. Laws that were estimated to have no budgetary effects are not listed.

1. The amounts in this report and its two supplemental tables also incorporate the estimated effects on revenues from provisions included in enacted appropriation legislation. The report and supplemental tables do not include the estimated effects of appropriation legislation on budget authority or outlays because most of those effects are classified in the budget as discretionary spending. Although annual appropriation legislation typically provides a large amount of mandatory spending authority each year (estimated at more than $1 trillion in 2020), most is already included in CBO’s baseline projections as required by section 257 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Accordingly, most mandatory spending ascribed to appropriation legislation has no budgetary effect relative to CBO’s baseline projections.

2. For more information about the budgetary effects identified in CBO’s cost estimates, see Congressional Budget Office, How CBO Prepares Cost Estimates (February 2018), www.cbo.gov/publication/53519.

3. See Congressional Budget Office, letter to the Honorable Mike Enzi providing a preliminary estimate of the effects of H.R. 748, the CARES Act, Public Law 116-136, revised, with corrections to the revenue effect of the Employee Retention Credit and to the modification of a limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations (April 27, 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56334, and summary estimate for divisions M through FF, H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Public Law 116-260 (January 14, 2021), www.cbo.gov/publication/56963. Those estimates were relative to CBO’s current-law baseline projections for the 2020–2030 period, except for some estimates related to unemployment insurance, which were based on CBO’s interim projections of the unemployment rate. See Congressional Budget Office, Interim Economic Projections for 2020 and 2021 (May 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56351.

This Congressional Budget Office report was prepared for the House and Senate Committees on the Budget. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the report makes no recommendations.

J’nell Blanco Suchy prepared the report with guidance from Theresa Gullo and Megan Carroll and with assistance from Olivia Yang. Mark Hadley and Robert Sunshine reviewed the report. Benjamin Plotinsky was the editor, and Jorge Salazar was the graphics editor.

This report, along with its supplemental tables, is available on CBO’s website (www.cbo.gov/publication/57084). For the previous edition, which contains links to earlier editions, see Legislation Enacted in the First Session of the 116th Congress That Affects Mandatory Spending or Revenues (February 2020), www.cbo.gov/publication/56135.

CBO seeks feedback to make its work as useful as possible. Please send any comments to communications@cbo.gov.

Phillip L. Swagel