Health Center Federal Policy

Bipartisan Deal Reached by the Budget Conference Committee

by Abby Pinkele

Yesterday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray unveiled a bipartisan budget deal weeks after talks first began and four days before the deadline to reach an agreement. The proposal, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, amends the Budget Control Act by setting increased discretionary spending caps for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015 and offsets, but does not repeal, sequestration for those two years.

For FY2014, the discretionary spending level is set at $1.012 trillion. The topline total spending level is less than originally proposed by the Senate in their FY2014 budget total of $1.058 trillion, which assumed the repeal of sequestration, but is an increase over the House proposed budget for FY2014 at the post FY2014 sequestration level of $967 billion. Overall, the legislation authorizes a $24 billion increase over the Budget Control Act FY2014 cap with $2 billion of the increase going to defense spending and $22 billion to non-defense. For FY2015, a discretionary spending level of $1.014 is set under the proposal, which is $63 billion over the Budget Control Act FY2015 spending cap.

A violation of the Budget Control Act discretionary spending caps would trigger sequestration cuts. However, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 offsets the two year combined spending increase through a variety of budget savings including aviation security service feeds, customs user fees, and improving the collection of unemployment of insurance overpayments. In addition, budget savings of $28 billion are generated by extending sequestration for an additional two years from FY2021 to FY2023.

The House is expected to consider the Bipartisan Budget Act first on Friday. This will be the test on whether the agreement has a chance of becoming law. If it does not pass the House the Committee may have to go back to the drawing board. If the legislation does pass the House and the Senate, this should allow a return to regular order and the appropriations committees in both chambers will redraft their appropriations bills utilizing the new topline spending caps, and those bills are expected to move quickly through the committees.

We are keeping an eye on the LHHS appropriations bill for FY14. As you will recall from this previous blog, the Senate FY14 LHHS bill included the full health center request of $3.8 billion in funding for FY14. The House LHHS subcommittee did not release a draft of their FY14 appropriations bill. The Bipartisan Budget Act will require the Senate Appropriations Committee to reduce their overall spending allocation, meaning continued and increased advocacy on the health center FY14 request will be needed in the weeks ahead.

Advocates with targeted Appropriations Committee members have been weighing in with their Members of Congress to ensure health center funding as allocated in the original Senate FY14 LHHS legislation is included in the final FY14 LHHS appropriations bill. Advocates should expect to see increased calls to action on FY14 appropriations soon. We will keep you updated as we continue our analysis of the Bipartisan Budget Act and keep you posted on its progress as it moves forward.