Art of the Very Difficult Budget Deal
Josh Huder | January 18, 2018
Three months into the 2018 fiscal year, Congress and the President have yet to finalize a budget deal. Delayed funding of government is not new to this Congress or its predecessors. Similar debates about how much to raise the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps (commonly referred to as sequester) occurred in 2013 and 2015, and Republican and Democratic leaders were able to hash out deals and move on. But this time, things are different. A combination of unified Republican control of government and a pattern of irresponsible non-legislating makes this a much different budget debate.
The part of the 2018 budget negotiation that actually deals with substantial money is basically over. Leaders appear to agree on the funding level boost for executive agencies, which since early December has remained relatively stable at around $54 billion for defense and nondefense discretionary spending. This gives the President the defense increase he requested, while Democrats get parity with nondefense spending.
Ironically, these numbers are basically the same as the FY2018 House Democratic Budget blueprint. They also represent a big increase over previous budget deals. The 2013 and 2015 agreements increased the caps by roughly $30 billion. This new emerging deal appears likely to break the caps by an additional $20+ billion. In other words, a Republican Congress will ultimately fund government at much higher levels than the divided governments did in 2013 and 2015.