LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Budget
February 8, 2018
A two-year deal to lift strict discretionary budget caps on defense and domestic spending was agreed to by Congressional leaders putting an end to the series of short-term congressional resolutions (CR) to keep the government funded. The deal increases defense and domestic spending by about $300 billion over two years (FY18 and FY19) as well lift the debt ceiling and disaster aid. While the bill is not perfect it was a hard negotiation between Democratic and Republican leaders that found common ground around what the American people need.
Under the agreement, in FY18 defense spending will increase by $80 billion and nondefense (domestic) by $63 billion beyond the budget caps. For FY 19 the increases are $85 and $68 respectively. The deal also included $140 billion for defense and $20 billion for emergency spending over two years. The agreement also includes a commitment to provide “$2 billion for important research at NIH (above the CURES Act increases)” and also specifies that the figures cited are “over two years”. The documents do not provide additional details about whether the deal would reserve a minimum of $1 billion for increases to NIH in FY 2018 and another $1 billion for increases in FY 2019, or distribute the NIH funding another way.
President Trump has signaled he supports the bill. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi does not support the agreement without a commitment from House Speaker Ryan to vote on an immigration bill to protect DACA immigrants, though the Speaker has already said he will only take up an immigration bill that Trump supports. It is expected that the House Freedom Caucus of hardline GOP conservatives will oppose the budget deal-making Speaker Ryan need Democratic votes to pass the bill in the House.
What happens next is the Senate amends the House CR bill to include the deal that was reached and votes it out, sending the bill back to the House for approval prior to tomorrow’s Feb 8th deadline. This will keep the government funded until March 23 by which time Congress will have written a new spending bill that outlines the levels set by the budget deal. This deal also potentially avoids a budget showdown in an election year.