On December 10, the House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), held a press conference to announce that a bipartisan agreement to fund the federal government for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015 had been reached. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would provide an overall cap on discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion (roughly halfway between the House and Senate topline figures) and provides relief from sequestration, restoring almost two-thirds of the expected cuts to nondefense discretionary programs in 2014. The House is expected to vote on the legislation later this week, followed by the Senate.
The Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) would provide $45 billion to reduce the sequester cuts in FY 2014 and $18 billion in FY 2015. Funds would be divided equally between non-defense and defense. This $63 billion would be offset by $85 billion in savings and new revenues (user fees) over the next decade. Additional cost savings would be realized by extending sequestration on non-exempt mandatory programs for 2 additional years beyond the Budget Control Act, amending the military retirement program, increasing contributions toward retirement from new government employees, and other policy changes. The legislation is projected to reduce the federal deficit by approximately $23 billion over the next decade.
Assuming the legislation is approved, work can resume on finalizing appropriations for FY 2014 prior to the January 15 expiration of the current continuing resolution.