Budget Deal Proposes Limited Relief

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement this week on a new two-year budget deal that would increase available funding for discretionary program accounts (including EPA’s budget), override the sequester-based new budget cuts, and set the stage for continued discussion/debate on approaches for deficit reduction.  Under the two year deal, a new $1.012 trillion spending cap would replace the anticipated $967 billion sequester-driven amount for 2014 and adds about $63 billion (roughly divided between $45 billion added for FY 14 and the remaining $18 billion for the following year).  The overall FY 15 spending level would increase to $1.014 trillion.

The budget deal, brokered by House and Senate Budget Committee chairs, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-W, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-W, passed the House with a sizeable bipartisan vote of 332-94, including 169 Republicans, a majority of the conference.  The legislation now goes to the Senate for their consideration.  It now remains to be seen whether Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) can convince some of the more liberal Senators and Senate Republicans that this agreement is good for the nation.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, doesn’t support the bill, nor do some of the chamber’s more vocal members, such as Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida.   The two chambers have until January 15, 2014, when the current Continuing Resolution expires, to finalize the deal.