Congress Passes Two-Year Budget Deal with Increased Spending for Non-Defense Discretionary Programs

Congress approved a bipartisan budget agreement, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018,” in the early morning of February 9, after a brief government shutdown, and the president signed it into law. Senate leaders announced on February 7 that they had reached a bipartisan agreement to lift the federal spending caps on defense and domestic priorities by $292 billion for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The Senate passed the budget in addition to a stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), by a vote of 71-28. The House voted to pass the measure by a vote of 240-186.  The CR carries forward funding levels from the previous year until March 23 to allow the Appropriations committees to work out a final catchall FY18 funding bill at the new spending levels. The legislation also raises the federal debt ceiling until March 1, 2019. 

The two-year budget agreement provides a significant increase for defense and domestic spending over the levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Non-defense domestic spending will increase by $63 billion in FY18 and $68 billion in FY19. Defense spending will increase by $80 billion in FY18 and $85 billion in FY19. The bill also includes significant funding for disaster relief, children’s health care, community health centers, and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation was opposed by members of the House Freedom Caucus for being fiscally irresponsible (the bill is expected to add $320 billion to federal deficits over a decade) and by some House Democrats because it failed to protect the undocumented “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Over the last several years, the low BCA spending caps made it difficult for Congress to fully fund affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA. With the passage of the two-year deal, NLIHC and other housing advocates will shift our focus to ensuring that HUD and USDA-Rural Development programs receive the highest funding levels possible in FY18 and FY19. 

Read more on the bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 at: