Today on the Hill: Leaders Strike Bipartisan Budget Deal

July 23, 2019

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump have struck a compromise budget deal (text; summary) that would address pressing deadlines for the federal debt ceiling and budgetary spending caps. The deal provides for a $321 billion boost in federal spending over the next two years, with $738 billion for defense spending and $632 billion for non-defense in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and $740.5 billion for defense and $634.5 billion for non-defense in FY 2021. By waiving the spending caps for FY 2020 and 2021, the agreement essentially marks the end of the 2011 Budget Control Act which is set to expire at the end of 2021. 

The agreement racks up roughly $77 billion in savings — lower than the administration’s original request of $150 billion — by extending Medicare cuts mandated in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 beyond FY 2027 and extending fees collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Additionally, Congressional leadership pledged to forgo “poison pill” measures and policy riders that lack bipartisan support in the FY 2020 appropriations process. While this isn’t explicitly listed in the legislative text, the language in the summary likely means that certain bipartisan priorities — such as drug pricing and tax extender provisions — will have to pass both chambers separately. 

As the six-week August recess approaches, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated that the lower chamber will look to pass the bipartisan budget deal by the end of this week. The Senate will likely take it up early next week, as the upper chamber is scheduled to adjourn for the break on Aug. 2. Once the deal is enacted, lawmakers will look to feverishly push FY 2020 spending bills through both chambers once Congress returns in September, as negotiators agreed that both a 12-bill omnibus spending measure and a government shutdown should be avoided.

On the floor, House lawmakers will consider 23 suspension bills out of the Transportation and Infrastructure, Science, Space, and Technology, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary Committees. This includes: (1) a measure mandating the Office of Management and Budget to annually submit a report to Congress on all disaster-related assistance provided by the federal government; (2) a bill providing for an online repository for certain reporting requirements of federal disaster assistance; and (3) an act authorizing appropriations for the U.S. Coast Guard. Meanwhile, the Senate will hold a final confirmation vote on Mark Esper’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense, and will finish consideration of a House-passed bill that would reauthorize the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund through 2090.