Congress Approves Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013
On Dec. 18, the Senate passed by a vote of 64 to 36 the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, H.J. Res. 59. The House passed the legislation on Dec. 12 by a vote of 332 to 94. The bill is the result of the agreement reached between the two Budget Conference Committee chairs, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA).
The bill sets the fiscal year (FY) 2014 spending cap at $1.012 trillion, replacing $45 billion in sequestration cuts that would have occurred at that spending level without the agreement. The cap is $46 billion less than the spending level set by the Senate Budget Resolution and $45 billion more than the level set by the House Budget Resolution. For FY 2015, the agreement caps discretionary spending at $1.014 trillion, replacing $18 billion in sequestration cuts that would have occurred at that spending level without the agreement.
According to a summary of the agreement, sequestration relief is divided equally between defense and non-defense spending. The bill caps FY 2014 non-defense discretionary spending at $491.8 billion, $22.4 billion more than the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) FY 2014 non-defense discretionary spending limit, and caps defense discretionary spending at $520 billion, $22.4 billion more than the BCA’s FY 2014 defense discretionary spending limit. The bill caps FY 2015 non-defense discretionary spending at $492 billion and defense discretionary spending at $521 billion.
All federally funded agencies, including HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are currently funded by a continuing resolution that expires Jan. 15. Congress must pass new appropriations legislation by that date to prevent another partial government shutdown.
The appropriations committees’ leaders are discussing now how to divide the newly agreed-upon FY 2014 $1.012 trillion spending cap among the 12 appropriations subcommittees. Appropriators are expected to release in early January an omnibus bill with a mix of new appropriations bills for some federal agencies and a continuing resolution for the others.
If the House and Senate Transportation, Housing, and Agriculture and Rural Development subcommittees are able to reach agreement on their respective FY 2014 funding bills, those bills are likely to be incorporated in a larger omnibus spending bill. If there isn’t agreement, programs within their jurisdictions are likely to be funded under a long-term continuing resolution.