October 27, 2015 Federal Budget Deal Update

Two-Year Budget Deal

Last night, congressional leaders and the White House announced a bipartisan two-year federal budget deal.  

The agreement would raise discretionary spending by $50B in FY16 (which began Oct. 1) and an additional $30 billion in FY17.  The deal also extends the federal debt limit until March 2017.

As you may recall, President Obama’s original FY16 budget proposed increasing federal spending by 7 percent, or $75 billion, but the congressional budget resolution provided only a $3 billion increase over the final FY15 enacted levels.  Instead, the final deal will increase defense spending and domestic discretionary spending equally by $25 billion in FY16, to $548 billion for defense accounts and $518.5 billion for domestic programs.  

The deal represents the second consecutive two-year reprieve of the “sequester” caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.  However, like the 2013 “Murray-Ryan” agreement, the deal does not permanently repeal the sequester.

This agreement is generally good news for the university research community, as most research accounts will see FY16 budget increases.  For example, prior to the deal, the House and Senate appropriations bills would have increased funding for the NIH by $1-$2 billion, so the NIH is likely to get an even larger increase in the final FY16 appropriations bill.  Similarly, the NSF, DOD research accounts, and the DOE Office of Science were also all slated for slight increases prior to the deal.

Future Outlook

The House is likely to vote on the budget agreement on Wednesday, with the Senate following suit before the end of the week.  Congress will then have until December 11th to pass the final FY16 appropriations bill (either as an Omnibus Bill or as a series of “mini-buses” or stand-alone bills).  

As House and Senate appropriations negotiators work on finalizing FY16 funding levels, we will continue to advocate for the programs that Northeastern benefits from as well as other university priorities included in the House and Senate draft bills, and we will provide additional information on final funding levels for research programs as soon as it becomes available.