March 22, 2001
U.S. House of Representatives Passes
Social Security and Medicare Lockbox Bill (H.R. 2)
On February 13, 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 407-2 passed H.R. 2, the Social Security and Medicare Lockbox Act of 2001. The bill would establish "points of order" or procedural rules intended to protect Social Security and Medicare trust fund surpluses. These points of order would expire once Social Security and Medicare reform legislation are enacted. If enacted, the bill:
Points of Order
- Would prohibit the House or Senate from considering any budget resolution, budget resolution conference report, or amendment that would set forth an on-budget surplus that would be less than the surplus of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund for that year.
- Would prohibit the House or Senate from considering any bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion or conference report that would cause the projected budget surplus to be less than the surplus of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund for that fiscal year.
- Would provide that these points of order would not apply to Social Security or Medicare reform legislation. The bill defines Social Security reform legislation and Medicare reform legislation as a bill or joint resolution to save Social Security or Medicare, respectively, that specifies that it constitutes reform legislation.
Waiver of Points of Order
- Would provide that the points of order could be waived in the Senate only by an affirmative three-fifths vote of the Senate (60 senators).
- Would require that if the Presidents' budget recommends an on-budget surplus that is less than the surplus projected for the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund for that year, the budget must include a detailed proposal for Social Security reform legislation or Medicare reform legislation.
The effect of this bill is that the Social Security trust funds surpluses and Hospital Insurance Trust Fund surpluses would be used to reduce publicly held debt until Social Security or Medicare reform legislation is enacted. This prevents the Social Security trust funds surplus from being used for non-Social Security purposes and the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund surplus from being used for any other purpose than health security.