Statement on the United States District Court Decision on the Constitutionality of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1986

February 7, 1986

Today a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld the validity of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings act. As we had expected, however, the court found the sequester mechanism of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings unconstitutional. When I signed the bill last December, I expressed concern over the constitutional questions raised by this provision, which gave the Comptroller General power to exercise executive authority in calculating the deficits that trigger sequestration.

This court decision does not invalidate Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, nor does it diminish the determination of this administration -- or the responsibility of Congress -- to meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets for deficit reduction, targets set by Congress and agreed to by our administration. If the Supreme Court affirms this decision, there is a valid fallback provision in place whereby Congress is empowered to affirm the $11.7 billion automatic cut already agreed to in the FY 1986 sequester, and we would expect the Congress to live up to its responsibility. I also urge the Congress to go forward to meet the schedule and deficit targets for fiscal year 1987 and beyond.

No matter what the outcome of the current court arguments, I will continue, until the day I leave this office, to submit budgets that meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets. All we need to honor both the spirit and letter of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings is congressional action. This court ruling is no excuse for walking away from our responsibility to bring Federal spending under control. We made an agreement; let's live up to it. We've given the American people our word. We cannot let them down.

Note: Larry M. Speakes, Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President, read the President's statement to reporters at 5:10 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.