July 25, 2019
At press time, the U.S. House of Representatives was poised to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2019, a budget deal that was reached at the beginning of the week. After months of deliberation, the House, Senate, and Administration reached a two-year budget deal to raise the caps and avoid defaulting on the national debt. Much of the negotiation has reportedly taken place between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Congress avoided sequestration, a threat that was put into place by the 2011 Budget Control Act, for the fourth and final time. The agreement raises the caps by $321 billion and suspended the debt ceiling until July 2021. The deal also succeeded in preserving parity of cuts to nondefense discretionary and defense spending. In fact, spending on nondefense discretionary – which includes the investment in science and research – increased $10 billion more than the defense budget increased.
The Senate is scheduled to be in session next week and plans to have a vote on the BBA and will no doubt be scrambling to make progress on their appropriations bills. The Senate has not introduced a single appropriations bill, where as the House has passed 10 of their appropriations bills off of the House floor. The Senate is expected to start holding markups during the second week of September.
The House numbers reflect a ‘high-water mark’ for nondefense discretionary budgets at a level of $647 billion, and the Senate will be writing budgets that align with the BBA $632 billion for nondefense discretionary budgets — this will require the House to agree to some cuts in the final budget.
According to colleagues on the Hill, we are likely to see a continuing resolution until later in the year as the Senate continues to work on their bills through September and October and conference their bills with the House bills in November.
Throughout the appropriations process. FABBS has weighed in on the need to Raise the Caps and worked together with sister scientific societies and broad coalitions to encourage a budget deal.