Congressional negotiators reached a deal on the budget on Tuesday, a few days ahead of a December 13th deadline. Since the House's last day of work in 2013 is set for Friday, the timing gives Congress just enough time to try and actually pass the agreement before deeper sequestration cuts take effect at the beginning of 2014. Under the deal, the federal budget for 2014 and 2015 would be set at about $1.012 trillion.
The deal calls for 85 billion in savings, and relief for about $63 billion of scheduled cuts over two years. That additional revenue reportedly includes increased taxes on airline travelers, and increasing federal employee contributions to pensions. It does not include a key ask by Democrats: an extension of benefits for the long-term employed. Those benefits, for about the 1.3 million Americans currently receiving them, expire on December 28. Democrats could pursue an extension as a separate measure.
Lead negotiators Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray announced the deal at a Tuesday evening press conference. Ryan called it a "step in the right direction," noting that the bill would stop Congress from "lurch[ing] from crisis to crisis." Murray added that the deal would roll back sequestration cuts to domestic programs such as education and medical research, and ease cuts to defense spending. "I was very disappointed we weren't able to cut a single corporate tax loophole," Murray added. The full text will be released by the end of the night, according to Ryan.
If it receives final congressional approval, the compromise would partially ease deep spending cuts imposed by the sequestration that took effect earlier this year. The deal would also end the cycle of opportunities for partial government shutdowns, as it will cover the next two fiscal years. The deal will also avoid a new round of even deeper spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the beginning of next year, a goal that finally gained traction in both parties in Congress. Now, Congress has to try to pass the deal, which might not be as easy as some would hope.