On December 26, 2013, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the budget agreement reached by the conference committee tasked with outlining a topline federal spending level for fiscal year (FY) 2014, which passed through both chambers of Congress just prior to the holidays.
The agreement eases 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 will be distributed evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending and may result in more funding for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, including the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program, in the coming years. The bill also allows for $23 billion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years.
The easing of sequestration and contributions to deficit reduction will 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 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, have not yet been made public. Instead, the allocations were given to the top Democrats and Republicans on each House and Senate appropriations subcommittee, who have been working on setting program-by-program funding levels. This week, the top four congressional appropriators are expected to reconcile any remaining disagreements and finalize an omnibus spending package to be approved by congress and signed into law before the current stopgap funding measure expires on January 15.
The Senate and the House reconvened early this week from their recess today. Both chambers are expected to remain in session until the recess surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.