A congressional conference committee on the U.S. federal budget on Tuesday released a two-year budget conference agreement, avoiding a looming government shutdown in January and passing a comprehensive budget for the first time in several years. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the measure on Thursday night on a 332-94 vote; the Senate is expected to follow suit within days.
The agreement, H.J. Res. 59, would provide relief from the congressionally-mandated across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequester” while raising funds to pay for additional domestic and defense spending by increasing some fees and imposing minor changes to entitlement programs. The legislation provides $63 billion in sequester relief while reducing the deficit by about $23 billion.
The “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013” sets discretionary spending for FY 2014, which began October 1, 2013, at $1.012 trillion – higher than House Republicans had sought but below the level Senate Democrats had hoped for. Discretionary spending in FY 2015 will be set at $1.014 trillion.
With this budget in place, House and Senate appropriators are expected to pass omnibus appropriations legislation to fund the government through September 30, 2014, before the current Continuing Resolution expires on January 15, 2014. With the FY 2015 spending caps also set, appropriators could return to regular order to pass the 12 appropriations measures necessary to fund the government next year.