House Passes Two-year Budget Deal, Raises Budget Caps and Allows for Increased Domestic Spending

House Passes Two-Year Budget Deal, Raises Budget Caps and Allows for Increased Domestic Spending

Legislative Update
July 25, 2019

Today, the House of Representatives passed a two-year budget agreement that increases spending for military and domestic programs and suspends the debt ceiling through mid-2021, sending the White House-backed legislation to the Senate. The 284-149 vote was largely split along party lines, with most Democrats supporting the deal while most Republicans voted against the agreement despite appeals from the White House.

The Senate is expected to act on the bill next week and send it to the President for his signature before Congress leaves Washington for the August recess.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA) raises Budget Control Act (BCA) spending limits, replaces the $55 billion in cuts scheduled to take effect in FY2020 and increases funding for nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs by $56.5 billion over the next two fiscal years above the current level. In its Capitol Hill advocacy, NAEVR has urged a two-year bipartisan budget deal that raises NDD caps to facilitate continued robust NIH and NEI funding increases.

The House has already passed ten of its twelve FY2020 spending bills after setting spending caps higher than those in the BCA. Although the Senate has not yet marked up any of its spending bills while awaiting a budget deal, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has announced that he will set the top-line allocations during the August recess, enabling staff to finalize spending bills and prepare them for Subcommittee markups once lawmakers return on September 9.

If the BBA is not passed or if it passes and the Senate does not finalize its bills by the end of FY2019 or the House and Senate cannot conference their respective bills prior to September 30 the government could shut down, unless Congress passes a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government in FY2020 while it finalizes spending bills. As NAEVR has noted in the past, delayed appropriations have a detrimental effect on the National Eye Institute (NEI), since the Institute cannot spend in any one month during the CR more than what it spent in the prior fiscal year, as well as a negative impact on researchers, who may need private bridge funding to keep labs open while awaiting federal funding.