Deadline day—congress says yes to the deal

Debt deal signed and delivered just in time.

The House passed the Budget Control Act, S. 365, by a wide margin, 269-161, on Monday and immediately recessed for the remainder of August. The Senate passed it Tuesday, 74-26, with the bill expected to garner a quick presidential signature.

Yesterday I mentioned that nobody loves this bill, and that’s becoming more evident by the minute. It’s a good thing the votes have been quick, because the longer the deal stands in the spotlight, the worse it looks. Both sides had to swallow some provisions they disliked, but Democrats have been particularly vociferous. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) called it a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” Yikes! “Wonkbook” blogger Ezra Klein of The Washington Post calls it “The Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Deal.” Many Democrats are concerned about the lack of balance, e.g. no revenue provisions, even though the option to include revenues is left open for the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the ‘super-committee’) to consider. But given that the Speaker of the House and the Senate Minority Leader are unlikely to appoint to the committee members of the Republican party who support tax increases (assuming there are still a few of them left) some Democrats feel the prohibition of revenues is there in spirit if not in the text.

For you who want to see it up close, here is a Section by Section Analysis of the Budget Control Act from the House Rules Committee.

What happens next? The Budget Control Act (BCA) is a new budget resolution (a ten-year budget resolution), but without the detail of a normal budget. So the effect of spending cuts on specific agencies, like research funding agencies, won’t be clear for some time. The spending caps allocated to each of the appropriations committees --302(b)s-- will be recalculated, and the appropriations committees will allocate the (reduced) funds as they always do. It isn’t clear yet how the BCA caps will be applied to the Fiscal Year 2012 spending bills that have already passed one house, e.g. the Homeland Security and Energy bills. Will pass that on as soon as I know!