Conference Committee Strikes a Deal Garrett, Pallone and Holt Vote No
On December 10, 2013, the conference committee reached an agreement on total spending levels for both fiscal year (FY) 2014 and FY 2015 federal spending.
On December 12, the budget agreement, titled the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, easily passed through the House (332-94). The Senate cleared way for passage of the measure this morning.
All of NJ’s House Delegation voted in favor, except for Congress members Garrett, Pallone, and Holt.
The agreement would ease sequestration by $45 billion in FY 2014 and $17 billion in FY 2015, increasing discretionary spending to $1.012 trillion in FY 2014 and $1.014 trillion in FY 2015.
Sequestration relief would be distributed evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending and would likely result in more funding for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs in the upcoming years. The bill also allows for $23 billion in deficit reduction over the next ten years.
The easing of sequestration and contributions to deficit reduction would be financed through raising revenue by increasing various federal fees (e.g. airline passenger fees), making cuts to some federal benefits (e.g. federal employees’ retirement benefits), and extending sequestration for two additional years. The deal does not include an extension of unemployment insurance or reform to entitlement programs or the tax code; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has stated that unemployment insurance will be the first item on the Senate’s 2014 agenda.
Following Senate passage of the bill, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will likely agree to 302(b) allocations (spending levels for each of the twelve appropriations bills) for the appropriations subcommittees, including the House and Senate Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) subcommittees.
Once each subcommittee has a set allocated amount, they will work quickly to complete their FY 2014 spending bills. It is expected that many of these bills will be compiled in an omnibus spending package (as opposed to individual bills) that will need to pass through both chambers of Congress prior to January 15, when the current stopgap funding measure will expire.
The House departed for the holiday recess on December 12, while the Senate is expected to depart this Friday, December 20. The Senate and House are expected to reconvene on Monday, January 6, 2014 and Tuesday, January 7, 2014 respectively.