The bipartisan Committee on the Budget Conference continued work toward its goal of completing an FY14 funding agreement by December 13. The continuing resolution (CR) that is currently funding the government at FY13 levels expires on January 15. Appropriators would have from December 13 to January 15 to work out subcommittee allocations, including one for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations subcommittee and enact FY14 appropriation levels, based on the FY14 agreement (see Memo, 11/8).
NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley sent a letter to the Budget Conference Committee on November 15, asking that sequestration be reversed and that the final budget resolution have funds at a level sufficient to prevent further non-defense discretionary cuts. The letter calls for prevention of further harm to the lowest income households and the highest possible FY14 appropriations for HUD and USDA affordable housing programs.
The Budget Conference Committee held its second public meeting on November 13, at which Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf testified. Senate Committee on Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) said in her opening statement that she was very encouraged by conversations held with House Committee on Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), and that “hopefully we will get to a bipartisan agreement soon.” Chair Ryan noted that he and Chair Murray have been discussing “the parameters” of an agreement, but that they are not there yet, largely because a great deal of time has been spent discussing the differences between the two budgets.
In the meeting, Mr. Elmendorf described overarching economic trends and focused on two keys points:
- In the short term, the nation is facing slow job growth due to the anemic recovery from the recession.
- In the long term, “the prolonged weakness in the economy has lowered its productive capacity for years to come, while the aging of the population, the expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and rising health care costs will put increasing pressure on the budget.”
Mr. Elmendorf discussed in the Committee meeting and later articulated in a blog post that, “Of course, a clear long-term resolution of budgetary concerns would be beneficial. But even if that is not feasible right now, reallocating elements of the budget to comport better with the country’s priorities as lawmakers view them, while reducing uncertainty about fiscal policy next year and improving or at least not worsening the long-run budget outlook, would be a good thing—even if it left significant challenges to be addressed in next year’s budget process.”
A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussion about whether the raising of revenues through the closing of tax loopholes must be part of a deal. This is the position taken by Committee Democrats including Chair Murray (see Memo, 11/8). Through revenue raised by the closing of loopholes, legislators hope to reverse sequestration for one or two years. Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations and a member of the budget conference committee and, said that there is “bipartisan demand” to end sequestration. However, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) said that sequestration is “working.”
House and Senate Appropriators have indicated that they will not start work on FY14 spending bills until an agreement is reached. A letter from Senate Committee on Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Committee on Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) was submitted during the November 13 meeting. In the letter, the Appropriations Chairs urged the budget conference committee to reach consensus by December 2, or “even better, November 22.” FY14 began on October 1, and the Appropriations Chairs have indicated they would like to advance the FY14 bills in an omnibus bill.
View NLIHC’s letter at: http://bit.ly/1cCPFhM
Watch an archived webcast of the November 13 meeting: http://1.usa.gov/1cUIBSL
Read the letter from Chairs Mikulski and Rogers at: http://1.usa.gov/1a0R573
Read Director Elmendorf’s blog post at: http://1.usa.gov/I4KbTl