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Bipartisan Federal Budget Deal Reached, But the Devil is in the Details

December 20, 2013
On the heels of receiving approval from the House of Representatives last week, the 2014 federal budget proposal passed the Senate yesterday with bipartisan support. The plan is now pending before President Barack Obama where it is all but certain to receive his signature.
Brokered by budget leaders Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the compromise outlines a two-year $1.01 trillion spending plan that will fund the government through next year’s midterm congressional elections. At its core, the proposal appropriates $520 billion to federal defense spending and $492 billion to discretionary domestic programs. In addition, an estimated $23 billion in across the board budget savings will be achieved under the plan.
Dubbed the ‘Ryan-Murray’ plan, the proposal substantially reduces the amount of across the board automatic funding cuts to defense and non-defense programs, known as sequestration, over the next two fiscal years to the tune of $63 billion. As a result of lowering the sequestration cuts, federal spending is expected to increase; however, after FY 2015, proposal provisions will decrease spending through 2023.
Other significant features of the Ryan-Murray plan include:
  • Increasing the TSA security user fee to $5.60 for each one-way ticket;
  • Cutting cost-of-living increases in military pension benefits for retirees under 62 years of age; and
  • Requiring new federal government employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014 contribute 1.3 percent more of their paychecks to the federal pension fund.
A summary of the budget deal prepared by the House Budget Committee is available on the House website.
The proposal has been characterized by many as a break from typical federal budgetary practices given its bipartisan approval, overall arching framework and strict government spending limits. It is anticipated the proposal’s appropriations scheme will provide stability in federal agency budget planning and hold Congress accountable for appropriation spending. Yet in laying such a broad framework, Congress still needs to pass several appropriations omnibus spending bills detailing specific program funding that, if history is any indication, may prove difficult to do in such a divided Congress. Sources report that in preparation for the Jan. 15 expiration of U.S. funding authority, federal budget appropriations staff are currently working on a comprehensive agreement.

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