DC Digest – Federal Budget Deal Update

Congressional negotiators announced a budget deal last night that would set annual spending levels at just over $1 trillion for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and would provide $63 billion in relief from sequestration over that same time frame.

The proposal does not lay out specific amounts of money for federal agencies, but it would increase, from its current level, the overall pool of money available in the part of the budget that affects higher education and research.

If the deal were to be approved, Congressional appropriators would have $492 billion for non-military spending. That’s about $23 billion more than would be available if Congress were to allow a second round of automatic, across-the-board cuts to take effect in January. But it’s still about $14 billion below the original level of non-defense funding before the sequester first took place in March.

Within the confines of those top-level limits, appropriators will be able to move forward with negotiations on a final FY 2014 spending package, and will have more room to increase funding for campus-based student aid program and federal research agencies. Congress needs to pass the new spending bill before January 15 to avert another government shutdown.

Since the proposal also provides the framework for the FY 2015 budget, it would allow appropriators to get to work on crafting individual bill shortly after the release of the Administration’s budget request next February, a move seen by some as a welcome return to regular order and stability.

The deal does not, however, raise the debt ceiling.  The debt limit will be reached later this spring, and it is expected to bring another round of debate regarding debt and deficit reduction.

Congressional leaders are working to expedite passage of this deal before the House goes into recess for the holidays, and the House has scheduled a vote on the measure tomorrow.  Duke OFR remains engaged on the issue and will continue to provide updates.

Read More:
Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (house.budget.gov)
What the Budget Deal Means (Inside Higher Ed)
Budget Deal Would Soften Next Round of Sequester Cuts (Chronicle of Higher Ed)