A budget resolution approved by the House Budget Committee (HBC) yesterday would cut $5.5 trillion from federal budgets over the next 10 years and balance the budget by 2024.
HBC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) called the resolution “a strong step forward in addressing the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.”
The annual budget resolution, often referred to as a “congressional budget blueprint,” sets revenue and appropriations targets for the tax writing and appropriations committees, so they can begin work on the president’s budget request. This is an internal congressional procedure, so the passed budget resolution is not sent to the president for approval.
The HBC plan, “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” would set the FY2016 total federal spending level at $3.8 trillion, about $140 billion less than current policy. Of the $5.5 trillion reduction from 2016 to 2025, $2.2 trillion would come from changes to the health care law and $2.1 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, and other mandatory programs. The remaining reduction would result from cuts to discretionary programs (-$539 billion) and lower interest payments on the debt ($-798 billion).
The HBC proposal would not end sequestration.
The budget discretionary budget authority for national defense (DoD plus other defense-related spending such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear program) would increase by $387 billion from FY2017 to FY2025, while cutting non-defense budgets by $759 billion over the same period.
In FY2016, the proposed budget would keep defense at the sequester level of $523 billion, but would set funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) at $90 billion, about $40 billion above the request. The president’s national defense base budget request was $561 billion, $38 billion above the cap.
The committee’s budget resolution would also set up a “Defense Readiness and Modernization Fund” that could be used to increase defense funding is a way that would be considered “deficit-neutral,” just like funding for the OCO account.
House pro-defense supporters urged the committee to approve an amendment adding more defense funds. This concerned so-called “deficit hawks” who are troubled about resulting increases to the deficit, unless they were offset by cuts elsewhere. The House leadership, worried that this standoff could imperil passage of the budget resolution on the house floor, brokered a deal that the Rules Committee would accept an amendment to increase OCO funding to $96 billion, without requiring any offsets, and would not require offsets for the $20 billion “Defense Readiness and Modernization Fund.”
The full House is expected to consider the budget resolution next week