Category: Blog
What You Need to Know About Senate’s Budget-Tax Resolution and Complex Year-End Spending Negotiations

The Senate will vote this week on an FY 2018 Budget Resolution. Here’s what you need to know. Adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget for FY 2018 by the House and Senate is an essential step to launch the filibuster-proof Budget Reconciliation process to advance a Republican-only tax bill ...

Complex end-of-year negotiations could address Spending Caps, CSR payments, DACA/border security, CHIP, Health Centers, Disaster Aid, Debt Ceiling...

President Trump last week announced his intention to terminate ACA cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies. The payments were enacted to reduce patient deductibles and copays for low-income enrollees (100-250% of the poverty level)...

Disaster aid advances ...

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Budget Resolutions Advancing to Enable GOP Tax Cuts; Shutdown & Debt Ceiling Loom

Senate Likely To Consider Budget Resolution Next Week: Last Thursday the Senate Budget Committee voted to report an FY 2018 Budget Resolution on a party-line 12-11 vote. The Senate plan would launch a filibuster-proof tax cut bill that would add $1.5 trillion to the public debt to pay for corporate and pass-through tax cuts, lowering the top individual tax rate, eliminating the estate tax, and other tax cuts.

FY 2018 appropriations remain stalled and a fight looms over paying for disaster aid....

A major debt ceiling fight in December remains a possibility, given increasing partisan discord over ACA repeal, tax cuts, and immigration -- and the fact that the debt ceiling bill is "must-pass" legislation.......

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Senate Budget Committee Releases Budget Resolution

The Senate Budget Committee today (Friday, 9/29) released the text of a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that would launch the process for GOP tax cuts without Democratic votes.

The 89-page legislative text includes reconciliation instructions that allow the Senate Finance Committee to add up to $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over the next 10 years, reflecting the GOP decision to come up with offsets to reduce the net cost of their multi-trillion tax cuts to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The filibuster-proof reconciliation mechanism allows Republican-only tax legislation to advance with 50 votes in the Senate.  However, the filibuster-proof mechanism is constrained by the Byrd Rule which does not allow increases in the debt beyond the 10-year budget planning window.  Therefore, any tax cuts that are not paid for will have to expire at the end of 10 years.  See our explanation of Reconciliation and the Byrd Rule.

The budget also includes instructions for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to advance filibuster-proof legislation.

According to Politico, a vote is expected next week and the resolution is expected to be approved by the Committee.  If the resolution clears the full Senate, a common version will have to be negotiated with the House.  The House version includes controversial cuts of more than $200 billion in entitlement programs.

Here is a summary of the draft FY'18 budget resolution and summary tables.   ...

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On Sept. 8, 2017 President Trump signed HR 601, an emergency measure negotiated with congressional Democratic leaders, and passed by the Senate 80-17 and by the House 316-90 (all the "no" votes being Republican). The bill has four components:

1.  Provides $15.25 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for Hurricane Harvey and other disasters, including $7.4 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund (passed a day before FEMA’s disaster funds would have been exhausted), $450 million for the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program, and $7.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding for areas most affected by the 2017 disasters;

2.  Extends the National Flood Insurance program, which was due to expire September 30, to December 8, 2017;

3.  Suspends the debt ceiling through December 8, 2017, temporarily avoiding a Treasury default on U.S. obligations; and

4. Provides continuing appropriations (effectively, a “continuing resolution”) to fund the federal government at current FY 2017 levels through December 8, 2017, avoiding a federal shutdown when the new fiscal year begins October 1.

While the measure provides much-needed emergency disaster relief, the “fiscal cliff” has only been postponed until December 8th, when a federal shutdown and economically catastrophic default faces the nation absent bipartisan agreement on spending levels and the debt ceiling – both requiring 60 votes in the Senate.

(The exact date of a default crisis will depend on Treasury’s cash balances on December 8 and the timing of government spending on disaster relief.)...

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Tax Cuts and Infrastructure Stalled; October Shutdown, Default Loom

Congress faces a train wreck when they return after Labor Day:

  1. Federal government shutdown looms on October 1st unless Republicans and Democrats reach bipartisan agreement on new federal appropriation caps for FY 2018.
  2. U.S. Treasury default looms in early October as GOP remains deeply divided on how to pass a debt ceiling increase.
  3. Tax Cuts are stalled due to lack of GOP agreement on an FY 2018 Budget Resolution.
  4. Infrastructure investment is stalled due to opposition to public financing and lack of a capital investment budget.
  5. 80% of Americans want to mend, not end, the ACA according to a new survey.

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$2 Trillion Infrastructure Gap and Tax-Exempt Bonds

$2 Trillion Infrastructure Gap On March 9, 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a cumulative grade of D+, finding that “we can no longer afford to defer investment in our nation’s infrastructure. To close the $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet...

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The Process is Not the Problem; the Problem is the Problem

Here we go again.  In a hearing on Tuesday, as reported by Congressional Quarterly, Sen. David Perdue, R-GA, told the Budget Committee, “it’s almost guaranteed that we will not have a budget process” this year. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed, “it is completely broken.”

Administrations and Members of Congress have been “blaming the budget process” since the current process began in 1974.

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Rudy Penner hit the nail on the head when he observed over 30 years ago, “The problem is not the process, the problem is the problem.”

This year’s “problem” is that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have started writing the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY 2018, which begins October 1st, without having top-line numbers to work from (see Appropriations Portal)....

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