Congress, President Agree on Budget Bill; Spending Set for Two Years

October 30, 2015

From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 15:13

With Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) set to retire at the end of the week, Republican congressional leadership and President Obama reached an agreement that would increase federal spending levels for domestic and defense programs over the next two years, while also suspending the congressionally instituted debt limit until early 2017.

In reaching this accord, two potential political land mines have likely been averted. The deal should eliminate any chance of a federal government shutdown for the duration of the legislation, while also removing the possibility of a standoff between the White House and Congress over whether to raise the debt limit.

It is important to note that the agreement is not an appropriations bill, meaning that it does not set funding levels for individual agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Those levels will be determined by the appropriations committees, which already are working to pass legislation before the current funding bill expires on December 11.

While the budget agreement will raise the cap for domestic spending by approximately $40 billion over two years, that money will be appropriated among domestic agencies as Congress sees fit (as long as the president agrees to sign the bill). As a result, most agencies will continue to be funded at current levels for the remainder of this fiscal year. As it did when Congress began the FY2016 budget process, NASAA urges the House and Senate to fund the NEA at $155 million for the remainder of FY2016.