WASHINGTON— On December 10, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that they reached a budget agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, that would cover FY 2014 and FY 2015 and includes a partial reduction of sequestration cuts. The budget conference committee is responsible for developing a budget plan by December 13. Without an agreement before the current continuing resolution runs out in January, federal agencies would face another government shutdown. The House and Senate passed their respective FY 2014 budget resolutions in March, but with vastly different top level amounts for discretionary funding.
On October 17, the President signed legislation that avoided a dangerous default. Under the terms of the deal, the government was funded through January 15, 2014, and the debt limit was extended until February 7, 2014. The law directed negotiators to develop a budget framework by December 13, which would give Congress a month to finish FY 2014 spending bills before government funding authority ends and new sequester cuts take effect on January 15.
A majority of tribal trust and treaty promises are funded in the domestic discretionary budget. In FY 2014, non-defense discretionary funding will be nearly 18 percent below FY 2010 levels adjusted only for inflation as a result of cuts made in the FY 2011 appropriations process and the Budget Control Act, including sequestration. Tribes have urged the budget conference committee to replace the sequester and avoid cutting even more deeply from key domestic investments, which include the solemn duty to fund the trust responsibility. The budget agreement partially replaces sequestration.
The Budget Agreement
The plan would still require Congress to lower spending to billions below pre-sequester levels, but it will allow House and Senate appropriators to try to finish FY 2014 appropriations. The budget deal sets an overall discretionary spending limit of about $1.012 trillion for fiscal year 2014, $45 billion more than the FY 2014 sequestration spending cap level of $967 billion. The $1.012 trillion number set by the Ryan-Murray deal is about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The Murray-Ryan level is still $54 billion less than the original pre-sequester limit of $1.066 trillion agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The deal would replace less than half of the total sequestration cuts in FY 2014 and a much smaller share in FY 2015.
Resources on the agreement
The rule for debate cleared the House Thursday afternoon, which sets up a Thursday evening vote in the House. The bill (HJ Res 59) is expected to clear the chamber with a mix of votes from both parties. The Senate will consider the bill next week and President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
Once the votes on the budget deal occur, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) are expected to meet quickly to start dividing the $1.012 trillion among the 12 annual appropriations bills. It is likely that some spending bills will be packaged in an omnibus that would include some individual bills and funding for remaining programs through a continuing resolution.
Last week, the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Education Association, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and the National Indian Health Board, wrote the members of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and the Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education to remind them of the direct and profound impact that many accounts have on American Indian/Alaska Native people. The letters requested that in any effort crafting final FY 2014 appropriations bills, they should restore the resources to important tribal governmental programs and trust and treaty obligations in their bills.
NCAI urges tribal leaders and advocates to contact their respective Congressional delegations as well as members of the appropriations subcommittees with similar messages: that in any effort crafting final FY 2014 appropriations bills, Congress should restore the resources to important tribal governmental programs and trust and treaty obligations in their bills.
Editor’s Note: This analysis was prepared by the National Congress of American Indians and was released last Friday, December 13, 2013.