Policy Update: December 12, 2013

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) have announced a bipartisan federal budget agreement. Under the two-year compromise, spending levels for FY14 and FY15 would be set at slightly over $1 trillion, which falls between the levels proposed by the House and approved by the Senate earlier this year. The deal would replace the next round of automatic sequestration spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1st (delaying such cuts until 2022 and 2023). If approved by both branches, Congress would have until January 15th to finalize its appropriations for FY14, when the current continuing resolution (CR) expires. We believe the budget deal will pass and then Congress is likely to pass another CR, but at higher funding levels than was expected for next year.

The deal is good news for Northeastern's higher education and research priorities. The agreement would increase domestic discretionary and discretionary defense spending equally by about $22 billion in each of the next two fiscal years. This would blunt deep cuts in education and other domestic programs that were expected, and will likely pave the wave for continued slight increases in science agency budgets.

The deal is not without controversy, however, as it increases federal employee retirement contributions, corporate pension premiums, aviation passenger security and other user fees to pay for new spending and deficit reduction. And some in Congress believe it is too generous. Nevertheless, the House of Representatives is expected to pass this agreement this week, with the Senate following suit next week. They will also have to work to raise the debt limit in the new year.

Next steps

As Congress works to pass this budget and finalize the FY14 appropriations bills in the next few weeks, we will update you on the final spending levels for student aid and funding agencies, as well as other notable provisions. We will also work with the colleges to identify ways to assist faculty to compete for funding opportunities made available.