The Senate Aug. 1 approved, 67-28, a House-passed budget agreement (H.R. 3877) that would suspend the debt ceiling through July 31, 2021 and would revise discretionary spending caps in fiscal years (FYs) 2020 and 2021 [see Washington Highlights, July 26]. The bill now awaits the signature of the president, who has indicated his support.
The revised spending cap would avert $55 billion in cuts to nondefense discretionary spending that would occur under the statutory Budget Control Act cap for FY 2020; by contrast, the revised cap would represent a $24.5 billion (4.1%) increase over the comparable funding level in the FY 2019 spending bills.
Prior to the vote on final passage, the Senate considered an amendment to the budget deal offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and cap on-budget spending through FY 2029. Senators rejected the amendment by a vote of 23-70.
Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has indicated that committee staff shortly will be informed of subcommittee-specific funding levels, known as 302(b) allocations, under the revised cap to allow them to begin drafting the 12 annual spending bills. He anticipates the first spending bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill, will be considered when Congress is back in session the week of Sept. 9.