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CCTS Newsletter | October 20, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andres Bachelet
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Dale Dirks and Dane Christiansen

October 20, 2017

 

With the number of critical and time-sensitive legislative items mounting by the week, Congress has been working to make progress where possible. Most recently, these efforts saw the Senate pass a budget resolution for FY 2018. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) joined all Democratic Senators in opposing the measure. However, the House is expected to simply adopt the Senate budget in the near future. While the budget is significant for a number of reasons, the partisan rancor stems from provisions that will pave the way for subsequent tax reform proposals by simply requiring majority support (rather than the 60 vote threshold) and prohibiting use of the filibuster.

 

It is important to note that the Senate’s budget resolution rejects recent efforts to promote a balanced budget and deficit reduction by facilitating up to $1.5 trillion in deficit spending (which means any tax reform efforts will not need to be budget neutral). This move is unlikely to benefit established programs and agencies though as the budget calls for spending limits that are capped at their FY 2017 levels. More troubling, in future years the budget calls for deep cuts in non-defense discretionary spending and increases in defense spending with significant Medicare and Medicaid reductions. While these proposals outline an overall vision, they would require additional, specific consideration during upcoming funding cycles.    

 

If the House adopts the Senate’s budget resolution, Congress will revisit the pending FY 2018 appropriations bills to make necessary adjustments that bring spending levels in line with the newly adopted budget. This will be no simple task though as the House and Senate have dramatic differences between their appropriations bills, particularly when considering the House’s Defense spending measures that already includes dramatic funding increases for DoD programs (and has the potential to impact the National Institutes of Health and other federal research and public health entities as the FY 2018 process moves forward).