October 30, 2015
Congress has acted to avert both a government shutdown
and a federal default with a budget deal that lifts spending caps and suspends
the national debt ceiling.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 increases spending
caps for defense and non-defense spending by a total of $80 billion for two
years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill adds more than $4
billion in savings, and eases the projected 52 percent premium hike for nearly
one-third of Medicare beneficiaries.
Congress only had until Nov. 3 to address the debt
ceiling before the government ran out of money to pay its bills.
That threat disappeared at 3 A.M. Friday morning when
the Senate followed the House in voting to approve the budget deal. It now goes
to the White House for signature.
Legislators now have about six weeks to pass an
appropriations bill and avoid a government shutdown. But the main
appropriations sticking point was removed when legislators voted to approve the
total budget amount.
Further, the agreement on new defense spending caps
means lawmakers can move forward with an amended FY2016 Defense Authorization
Act, which the president had vetoed over budget concerns.
The primary challenge is that, despite all the
technical readjustments to budget caps, the new deal means a $5 billion net
reduction in spending authority from the previously approved defense bill.
House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders are
now huddling to decide how to cut that amount from the defense budget. At this
point, it’s unclear whether that could involve any further cuts to personnel or
MOAA will keep you posted, as the decisions could come
as early as next week.