Legislative Alerts


Bipartisan Budget Agreement Announced 

Dec. 11, 2013

House and Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA) announced yesterday a bipartisan budget-conference agreement ahead of the expiration of the current continuing resolution set to end on Jan. 15, 2014. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 aims to ease sequester cuts for two years--$40 billion in the first year and $23 billion in the second year, evenly split between defense and non-defense programs. The act would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year (FY 2014) at $1.012 trillion--about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. In comparison, in 2014, the nondefense discretionary funds sequester cut under current law is $36.6 billion, and in 2015 it is $36.9 billion. Under the agreement, this would be reduced to $14.2 billion in 2014 and $27.5 billion in 2015, but which programs would see relief from the lower sequester number remains unknown until the appropriations process plays out. So while far from a "grand bargain," the agreement does provide some sequester relief, and sets nondefense discretionary spending at $491.8 billion. Additionally, the sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget, and the deal includes specific deficit-reduction provisions and aims to reduce the deficit by roughly $23 billion. You can read the summary, the bill text, and a section-by-section breakdown. It may also be important to note that this is the first bipartisan budget agreement from a divided Congress since 1986.

While the agreement has been released, it still has to go to the House and Senate floors for consideration. The House is expected to take up the bill as early as tomorrow, with the Senate to follow later in the week, possibly into the weekend. However, sources from both Republicans and Democrats have denounced the act and it unclear if it will clear both Houses of Congress.

It is important to note that this agreement is not an appropriations bill, but a budget resolution. ASTHO staff will continue to monitor the entire process from this budget deal to the point where the Appropriations Committees begin writing their spending bills.