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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR DECEMBER 27, 2013:

Appropriations and Budget Update


Two Year Bipartisan Budget Agreement- The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 passed by the House on December 12 by a vote of 332 to 94 and also passed the Senate on December 18 by a vote of 64 to 36.  The President signed the bill while on vacation in Hawaii on December 26, 2013. The legislation would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year, Fiscal Year 2014 at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In FY 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.

This legislation essentially ends 3 years of budget stalemate and will permit the Appropriations committee to return to regular order and begin to pass appropriations bills.

APPROPRIATIONS FOR FY 2014 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 provides an agreed to overall appropriations spending total for FY 2014 permitting the Appropriations Committee to now create 302b ceilings for each of the 12 subcommittees.  With subcommittees spending ceilings the real work of conferencing the individual bills can begin and is expected to continue over the holiday period.  The final package is expected be a mix of individual FY 2014 bills for those subcommittee that can be conferenced and a continuing resolution with adjustments for several bills that cannot be conferenced due to contentious policy disagreements.

Immediately after passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations  Barbara Mikulski  and Harold Rodgers, Chairman  of the House Appropriations Committee began negotiations on the 302 B ceilings and have pledged to work together to develop an Omnibus budget package for consideration in early January.  House floor action would likely take place the week Congress returns from the holiday recess starting January 6th. Both chambers will have until January 15th to move the Omnibus spending package before the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution.

APPROPRIATIONS FOR FY 2015 


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 also provides an Appropriations spending ceiling of $ $1.014 trillion for FY 2015 which gives Congress its first chance in years to have an orderly process for considering FY 2015 appropriations bills when that process begins next year following the Administration’s submission of the Administration’s 2015 Budget Request.

The White House typically releases its budget request the first Monday in February, but the Office of Management and Budget has delayed finalization of the FY 2015 Budget proposal until January in order to base the numbers on the final action by Congress on FY 2014.  The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has delayed the “pass back” of the near final numbers to the agencies until January. In the past the “pass back” has occurred after Thanksgiving but before Christmas and is a part of the process to permit consideration of final agency appeals. 

Chairmen Rogers and Mikulski had requested a Fiscal Year 2015 top line early in order to debate and pass as many of the 12 appropriations bills as possible ahead of the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2014. Appropriators believe having a common top line in the House and Senate for FY 2015 early would help avoid the sharp divide over spending between the two chambers that ultimately led to the collapse of the FY 2014 appropriations cycle and would return some semblance of normalcy to a budget process that has been broken for years.

The President’s State of the Union Address will be on January 28 and it is expected that the Administration’s budget will be released in the following week although some additional delay is possible.

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