Putting the agreement in context.
The House voted 332 to 94 on Dec. 12 to approve a two-year budget outline, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA), that would partially overturn the sequester and introduce a bit of predictability to a federal budget process that has repeatedly broken down over the past three years. The Senate is expected to approve the agreement the week of Dec. 16.
Observers are praising the modest agreement as a sign, after several years of acrimony, that the two parties can work together to shake off the worst effects of congressional gridlock. For one thing, it must be seen as progress that a majority of the House Republican caucus voted to approve a deal that included revenues from sources other than spending cuts. While many Democrats were dissatisfied with the scope of the deal, and the fact that it didn't include an extension of unemployment benefits, which are due to expire Dec. 28, a majority of that party also supported the BBA.
To call the BBA a “modest” deal almost exaggerates. As you can see in the summary blog entry below, it adds funds to cover less than half of the costs of sequestration for the current fiscal year. But that modest bit of relief ($22.5 billion additional is available for non-defense discretionary programs such as scientific research) is very welcome.
This will be the last blog update until the new year (the APA website is undergoing revisions til then). Thanks very much for walking through the budget weeds with us in 2013. We will be back online in January.