White House, Congress Strike Two Year Budget Deal
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has passed both chambers of Congress, setting up a confrontation with the White House, which appears ready to follow through on its veto threat after acquiescing in prior years.
The tentative agreement must still make it through both chambers of Congress, which may prove tricky, as conservatives were quick to denounce the process of backroom negotiations required to strike the compromise.
Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who was forced to resign his position and congressional seat in part to mollify anger of conservative members over previous bipartisan deals struck with the White House, had pledged to “clean the barn” before stepping down from his position at the end of this week.
Boehner’s likely successor as speaker, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) quickly blasted the deal, saying “this is not the way to do the people’s business.”
The bill announced Monday evening accomplishes that goal by providing funding for the government through September 30, 2017 and raising the debt limit until March 2017.
The text of the “discussion draft” legislation negotiated by staff to Boehner, along with his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the White House would boost defense and domestic spending by $80 billion over two years, while also boosting wartime funds for the Pentagon and State Department.
Specifically, the bill would allow defense and domestic spending to rise $50 billion above sequester levels in the first year, and $30 billion above sequester levels in the second year.
To offset the costs, the bill includes cuts in Medicare and Social Security disability benefits, and savings and revenue provisions from other program areas. It also raises revenue through the sale of 58 million barrels of oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves.
The deal also addresses a potential spike in costs for Medicare Part B beneficiaries, including CSRS retirees, who may still see premiums increase, but by much less than if the issue had not been addressed.
While the tentative deal significantly decreases the prospects of a government shutdown when the current continuing resolution expires on December 11, Congressional appropriators still must craft legislation to provide agencies funding consistent with the budget deal.
A section-by-section summary can be accessed here: Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
Posted in From the Hill