This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would suspend the debt ceiling until the middle of May. Under the proposal, the Treasury Department would be permitted to ignore the $16.4 trillion cap on government borrowing, running up additional debt to pay the nation's bills through May 18. After the May deadline, the Treasury Department could begin using extraordinary measures to manage the debt until July or August. The House measure also requires senators to adopt their own budget blueprint by April 15 or have their paychecks withheld and placed in escrow until this session of Congress ends in 2015.
Leaders in the Senate have stated that they will support the House's measure and the Senate is expected to take it up next week. President Obama has also said that he will support this proposal. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the new Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has stated that the Senate will adopt a budget blueprint this year, as the House's debit ceiling suspension bill requires. The Senate has not brought a budget proposal to the floor through regular order since 2009.
This means that the first of the big budget "hurdles" of this New Year has been overcome with relative ease. This deal also marks a distinct move for House Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who had previously stated that any debt ceiling debate needed to also include one-for-one cuts in spending. These potential cuts would have likely hit non-defense discretionary programs (like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding) very hard. Focus (including NCSD's focus) now moves to the next big budget "hurdles"-the new sequestration (across the board funding cuts) deadline of March 1 and March 27, when the current continuing resolution keeping the government open will expire. For those interested in a pictorial of the coming budget deadlines, Washington Post has a nice one on their blog.
If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to NCSD's Manager, Policy and Communications, Stephanie Arnold Pang at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-715-3865.