On the evening of Oct. 26, news media broke the story that leaders of the Republican and Democratic Parties in the U.S. Congress, in concert with the Obama administration, were coming close to reaching an agreement on federal budget legislation that would increase the nation’s borrowing limit through March 2017, preventing a default that might otherwise come within a week. [SEE UPDATE BELOW]
The Washington Post’s Kelsey Snell reported that “Congressional leaders and the White House are nearing a deal on a two-year budget agreement that would increase military and domestic spending for long-term spending cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare.”
Snell’s article reported that, “To help offset the cost of the discretionary spending increases, aides said the deal also would likely include new rules for the Social Security Disability Insurance fund, which is expected to run out of funds by the end of 2016. Discussions have also included maintaining a 2 percent cut to Medicare provider payments that were included in the 2011 Budget Control Act, also known as the sequester. Those cuts could be problematic for Democrats who have insisted that there be no changes to Medicare or Social Security in a budget deal.”
Political problems might also come from the Republican side, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Post article noted. Referring to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), the article noted that “The deal would be one of the very last items negotiated by Boehner before he steps down at the end of the week. He is under pressure to secure a deal before he leaves, so that Ryan [Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is widely expected to be elected Speaker within a week] will not have to begin his speakership by dealing with a contentious budget fight. But conservatives will be closely watching whether Ryan supports that deal and works to get it enacted, particularly since it was negotiated by leaders and did not go through the relevant committees.”
UPDATE: Agreement Reached Just Before Midnight Washington, D.C. Time
According to a Washington Post article posted at 1:30 AM by Kelsey Snell, updating Snell’s previous article of Monday evening, “House Republican leaders introduced legislation just before midnight on Monday, finalizing a two-year budget agreement between Congressional leaders and the White House. The introduction sets up a vote as early as Wednesday on the bipartisan budget deal which would increase military and domestic spending and avert a potentially catastrophic default in exchange for long-term spending cuts.”
According to the Post, “The 144-page bill, which is the result of weeks of negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders, would increase spending by $80 billion over two years and would increase the federal borrowing limit through March 15, 2017. A Wednesday vote all but ensures the budget deal will be one of the last acts for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) who intends to step down from the speakership by Friday. The timeline is tight for building support for the plan with the Treasury Department saying the debt ceiling will be hit by Nov. 3,” the article went on to say. “The legislation is expected to be the primary issue discussed on Tuesday morning during a weekly closed-door meeting of House Republicans. But it remains unclear if House conservatives will support the deal, leaving Boehner and his allies to spend his final days in office rallying support for a potentially unpopular agreement. If he is successful the deal could clear the slate for House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) who is expected to be elected speaker later this week.”
Healthcare Informatics will continue to update readers on new developments in this situation.