Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Congress Reaches Budget Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  House and Senate Congressional leaders announced yesterday that they have reached a compromise budget deal that will do little to curb the federal government's massive deficit spending and softens the spending reductions required by sequester.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, announced by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA), would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion.  The agreement would provide $63 billion in "sequester relief" over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.


Sen. Murray said in a statement that the sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget and that the agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion.  The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion, Sen. Murray added.  


"This agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as "the sequester” that have harmed students, seniors, and middle-class families and served as a mindless drag on our economy over the last year," President Obama said in a statement.  "It clears the path for critical investments in things like scientific research, which has the potential to unleash new innovation and new industries.  It’s balanced, and includes targeted fee increases and spending cuts designed in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy or break the ironclad promises we’ve made to our seniors."


But the lack of major spending cuts in the deal is stirring up opposition from conservatives.


“We need a government with less debt and an economy with more good paying jobs, and this budget fails to accomplish both goals, making it harder for more Americans to achieve the American Dream," said Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio in a release.  "Instead, this budget continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans."


“In the short run, this budget also cancels earlier spending reductions, instead of making some tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending. I voted against sequestration because of its effect on key programs, including the defense budget, but higher spending and more revenue are not the appropriate ways to address that problem," Rubio stated.