Budget Conferees Reach an AgreementDecember 11, 2013
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a budget compromise agreement in time for the House and Senate to act on a budget legislation later this week or next preventing another possible government shutdown on Jan. 15.
Congressional negotiators announced a deal late Tuesday night that would halt part of the sequester for two years and effectively suspend the fierce fiscal battle that has been looming since October’s 16-day partial federal government shutdown.
The conference chairs announced an $85 billion budget agreement that will set new spending levels for the next two-years while also cutting the deficit by $23 billion by extending a two percent cut to Medicare through 2022 and 2023, two years beyond the cuts set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The budget compromise plan would raise discretionary spending to $63 billion in across-the-board domestic and defense cuts over the next two years and increase the sequester-set level of $967 billion to $1.012 trillion for FY2014.
The final budget number falls about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. Additionally, the agreement falls short of the grand bargain that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama had once envisioned. In a statement supporting the two-year deal, the president said, “…it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done.”
The deal replaces some of the automatic spending cuts from the sequester in 2014 and 2015. Those cuts would be offset by a combination of increased federal worker retirement contributions, an increase in aviation fees that underwrite airport security, cuts to hospital payments, and postal reforms.
House Republican leaders plan to have a vote on the bipartisan package by Friday and the Senate plans to be in session through next week in order to complete this agreement.