House Passes Deal to Increase Spending Caps, Raise Debt Limit For Two Years

House Passes Deal to Increase Spending Caps, Raise Debt Limit For Two Years

This afternoon (October 28) the House passed the deal negotiated by the White House and top congressional leaders to increase spending caps for FY2016 and FY2017 and raise the debt limit through March 2017.  Announcement that bipartisan agreement had been reached was made less than 48 hours ago.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

The House used an existing, unrelated bill, H.R. 1314, as the legislative vehicle.  H.R. 1314 began as a bill to allow appeals of IRS determinations of tax-exempt status.   The Senate amended that bill, replacing it with the text of the Trade Act of 2015.  Today the House amended the Senate amendment with the text of the budget/debt limit deal — the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

The vote was 266-167.  All 167 no votes were Republicans. The 266 yes votes were from 79 Republicans and all 187 Democrats who voted. (One Democrat, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, and one Republican, Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, did not vote).

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who earlier today was chosen by the House Republican Conference as their candidate to become Speaker of the House, voted yes on the bill even though yesterday he said the process by which the agreement was reached “stinks.”  He would have preferred more involvement by members of Congress, rather than just the very top leadership of both chambers.  The full House is expected to vote tomorrow to elect Ryan as Speaker, although 45 Republicans did not support him today in the Republican Conference voting.  He received 200 votes from his fellow Republicans.  He needs 218 votes to become Speaker and it is expected that Democrats will vote for their leader, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or another Democrat, not Ryan.  Thus he needs to convince at least 18 of the 45 to support him on the floor tomorrow in the vote to replace retiring Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

The budget/debt limit deal increases the caps on federal spending negotiated in the 2011 Budget Control Act for FY2016 and FY2017 by $80 billion ($50 billion in FY2016; $30 billion in FY2017).  It also adds $32 billion in spending for the off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations account.  It does not end the sequester (across-the-board cuts that automatically go into effect if Congress exceeds the caps) and, in fact, extends it through 2025.

It also raises the debt limit through March 2017, taking both issues — spending caps and the debt limit — off the table until after the 2016 congressional and presidential elections. 

Congress must raise the debt limit before November 3 to avoid a default, so the Senate is expected to act on this legislation quickly.  Although it is controversial in the Senate as well as the House, passage is anticipated.

The agreement is on top-level spending amounts, not specific funding for individual agencies.  The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will use the spending caps and allocate funding to agencies like NASA and NOAA.  The government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on December 11.   House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) expressed optimism today that all 12 regular appropriations bills can be finalized by then.

Confidence that the agreement means an end to threats of government shutdowns for the next two years is rampant even though the 16-day government shutdown in 2013 was primarily due to opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), not to spending caps.  Many members of the conservative Republican Tea Party who were instrumental in that shutdown are equally determined to end government funding of Planned Parenthood this year, so it may be too early to breathe a sigh a relief.

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) praised the House action in a statement released after the vote:  “AIA is relieved and thankful” because it adds “badly-needed” funding for defense and “substantial relief” for agencies like FAA, NASA, NOAA and the Coast Guard.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.