Director’s Desk: December 20, 2013
Kenneth Gold | December 20, 2013
Late Wednesday the Senate passed the budget agreement that had passed the House last week, generating considerable speculation as to whether the bipartisan deal would herald a new era of bipartisan functionality, or whether its limited scope simply confirmed Congress’s inability to get big things done. In either case, it marks an end of four years of Congress operating without a budget, and presumably keeps the government operating for nearly two years and cancels much of the damaging aspects of the sequester.
Passage of the deal is clearly an accomplishment for a Congress that appeared unable to accomplish anything, but it’s a bit early to start singing Happy Days Are Here Again. Still looming is the January 15 deadline that Congress has to pass the 12 appropriations bills, which will undoubtedly be wrapped up in an omnibus. The committees received their individual 302(b) allocations, which have not yet been disclosed, and apparently won’t be until the omnibus is brought to the floor, in an attempt to minimize contention.
Also looming is the need to again raise the debt ceiling, probably in mid-March. Congressional Republicans are already discussing which set of demands they’ll make in exchange for permitting another increase. Included in this group was House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, the key Republican architect of the bipartisan budget deal. It will also be interesting to see whether Speaker Boehner’s recent rebuke of the principal conservative influence groups like Heritage Action will carry over to the debt ceiling fight.
Please consider joining us on Capitol Hill, where we’ll be looking at these and other important issues in our upcoming Congressional Update on January 16.
–Ken Gold, GAI Director