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Congress Agrees to End Government Shutdown, Lift the Debt Ceiling

Over the past several weeks NASDCTEc has been sharing updates regarding the most recent Congressional impasse over the budget and the need to increase the United States’ borrowing limit. Until yesterday, partisan gridlock had largely prevented Congress from accomplishing either of these important tasks. A Continuing Resolution (CR), which was needed to temporarily fund the government atCapitol current spending levels, failed to be negotiated by the October 1st deadline. A partial government shutdown ensued. Thousands of “non-essential” federal workers were furloughed, interrupting many important governmental functions and disrupting the wider economy.

Looming in the background of this stalemate was the fast-approaching need to raise the nation’s debt limit— the legislative restriction on how much the Treasury Department is allowed to borrow to pay for existing debts. Today marked that deadline for this critical limit.

Encouragingly, Congress came to a negotiated deal on both of these pressing issues late yesterday. The full text of the amendment can be found here along with a summary. The key aspects of the agreement are as follows:

  • CR funds the government until January 15th 2014
  • Raises the debt ceiling to February 7th 2014
  • Requires additional income verification for those receiving subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Creates a budget conference committee between the House and the Senate to negotiate a larger budget deal by December 13th 2013

The Senate passed the agreement decisively 81-18 and the House passed the measure on a narrower margin of 285-144. President Obama signed the legislation into law late last night and federal government employees are set to return to work today. Senator Patty Murray (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be the conference committee leaders where both sides hope to establish long-term spending plans. Sequestration, the mandated across-the-board spending cuts from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), will likely be a significant issue for the conference committee.

Additional sequester cuts for FY14 are set to take effect on the same day as the expiration date for the current CR by lowering the aggregate spending cap for the federal budget to $967 billion. These spending levels will likely be at the core of these budget negotiations as both sides try to replace, or at the very least mitigate, the effects of sequestration. As we have shared previously, sequestration continues to impact the CTE community and other nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs more broadly. Tax and entitlement reform efforts are also expected to be discussed during these negotiations.

Please check our blog for more updates on these quickly developing issues.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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