Congress Reaches a Budget Deal

Early this morning the House and Senate passed a two-year budget deal that ended the hours-long government shutdown that began at midnight and which paves the way for congressional appropriators to approve a spending package for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

This latest budget deal, which will keep the government open until March 23rd, is a necessary precursor to Congress approving a government spending package for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The 2011 Budget Control Act mandates that Congress set these limits on so-called “discretionary spending.” The deal passed this morning raises those limits. 

In addition to an agreement to increase discretionary defense and non-defense spending caps, the deal also includes an additional $2 billion for the NIH over the next two years, a package of federal disaster aid, funding to combat the opioid epidemic, and a six-year extension to the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Notably, the deal does not include an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to expire in early March, or any other immigration reforms. The hope is that Republican leadership in the House and Senate will still agree to bring a DACA fix to the floor before the March 5th deadline.

Although there is still work to be done on the appropriations side, these spending cap increases will likely mean increases in the budgets for other research funding agencies if Congress is able to approve a series of spending bills in the coming weeks.

The next few weeks will be busy in Washington, as congressional leaders get to work now on hammering out the details of a spending package that reflects the newly agreed upon spending caps before March 23rd and try to come to an agreement on DACA before the program ends on March 5th.  As always, we will be monitoring the situation closely and passing along updates as they happen.