Budget negotiators last night announced a bipartisan deal to set spending levels for the federal government through FY 2015 and partially replace sequestration cuts with other savings.
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) had until Dec. 13 to return a plan to Congress, an outcome of the October deal to reopen the federal government. The current stopgap funding measure is scheduled to run out again Jan. 15.
The agreement sets top-line spending figures for the next two fiscal years and partially replaces the sequester—the across-the-board spending cuts triggered earlier this year following prior failures to reach a budget agreement––with other cuts and non-tax revenues.
For fiscal year 2014, overall federal spending will be $1.012 trillion and for fiscal year 2015, $1.014 trillion. The agreement replaces $63 billion in sequester cuts with a combination of other savings, and includes an additional $22.5 billion in deficit reduction.
On the higher education front, the deal is expected to go some distance to alleviate cuts to campus-based financial aid programs and federal research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. This funding is currently in line for a second round of mandated sequestration reductions in January.
As ACE’s Jon Fansmith told Inside Higher Ed last night, “The higher [budget] caps for both years should allow the restoration of some damaging cuts, and should at the minimum prevent any further cuts for the next two years.”
Ryan and Murray will still have to sell the deal to their respective caucuses—it faces an uphill climb especially in the House. President Obama praised the deal as “a good first step” and said he would sign it if it reaches his desk.
Federal Budget Would Soften Next Round of Sequester Cuts
The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req) (Dec. 11, 2013)