The conference committee chairs, tasked with coming up with a topline spending number for FY 2014 federal spending, remain optimistic that they will reach an agreement by December 13, 2013 their agreed upon deadline.
They have signaled that in order to increase the likelihood of coming to an agreement they are now striving toward a relatively modest goal. This would likely involve financing a partial easing of both FY 2014 and FY 2015 sequestration cuts by raising revenue through increasing various federal fees and making cuts to some federal benefits.
The longer it takes the conference committee to reach an agreement on a topline spending level, the more difficult it will be for appropriators to pass appropriations bills that would fund the government beyond the current stopgap funding measure that expires January 15, 2014 in order to avoid another federal government shutdown.
In the case that the conference committee fails to reach an agreement, plans are underway in the House to introduce a full-year FY 2014 continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, at the relatively low $967 billion topline spending level outlined in the initial House FY 2014 Budget Resolution. The $967 billion level of spending would result in dramatic cuts to many HUD programs.
The House reconvened from their Thanksgiving recess yesterday, while the Senate is expected to reconvene next Monday, December 9, 2013. Members of Congress have very few legislative days remaining, particularly days when both chambers will be in session, prior to the December 13 deadline for the conference committee to reach an agreement on a topline discretionary spending level.