by Alex Sange, MPP
When we last blogged about the debt deal, or the Budget Control Act of 2011, we generally outlined the pieces of the new law. The first piece of the law makes $900 billion in discretionary spending cuts over the next ten years in order to increase the debt limit for the next few months, which will be split between security and non-security spending. These funding reductions are accomplished by setting discretionary spending limits for appropriation in FY2012 and the next 9 fiscal years and including an enforcement mechanism if these limits are exceeded. The second piece of the deal requires a new bipartisan, bicameral Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (now commonly referred to as the ‘Super Committee’) to identify and recommend savings of at least $1.2 trillion, which could be spending reductions and/or revenue enhancements, which both Chambers of Congress must pass and the President must sign into law before the debt limit can be increased again. If the Super Committee can’t meet their goal, automatic cuts totaling whatever portion of the $1.2 trillion mark has yet to be reached (with some exemptions for low-income programs like Medicaid) will go into effect in FY2013 (these cuts would include defense spending).
Strongly incentivized to avoid significant across-the-board reductions, the 12 members of the new Super Committee have a daunting task ahead of them: to craft and advance a policy proposal this fall that finds the required savings and which can pass both Chambers and be accepted by the President. Last week, House and Senate Leadership selected their Super Committee picks, so here’s the line-up:
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5)*
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)*
|* Committee Co-Chair|
Individual House and Senate Committees, including House Energy and Commerce, Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Senate Finance Committees, will also have a role weighing in with the Super Committee. Committees of jurisdiction may send over their own set of policy proposals for the Super Committee’s consideration as they craft recommendations. Several of the Super Committee members are already strong Health Center supporters, and we are working hard to make sure each member of the Committee, and all Members of Congress understand the importance of the Medicaid PPS and funding for the Health Centers program (both discretionary and mandatory). However, this deal will be a big one, as nothing is off-limits to the Super Committee, and it will be brokered over the next few months. Stay tuned to the blog and our advocacy alerts to make sure you’re plugged in and ready to speak up for Health Centers when the time comes.