Congress Raises Spending Caps, Appropriations Bills to Be Considered
On Oct. 30, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. President Obama signed the bill into law a day before the government would have been in default without the agreements. The legislation provides a two-year framework to relieve federal programs from the bulk of sequester spending caps. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the act provides $33 billion more for nondefense discretionary programs than would have been available if the sequester caps had remained in place.
Senate and House appropriators now have the opportunity to consider funding for individual programs including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill, by Dec. 11, when the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires. The CR has kept federal programs funded, preventing a government shutdown, absent FY 2016 appropriations bills.
The act’s additional $33 billion for sequester relief represents 90 percent of what President Obama requested in his FY 2016 budget. While significant, it doesn’t make up for the losses to nondefense discretionary programs in recent years. Also, the Bipartisan Budget Act doesn’t include any riders written into appropriations bills that have slowed down the FY 2016 appropriations process. The President has vowed to veto any appropriations bill with riders.