Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced a deal this evening concerning their work to find common ground on federal spending. Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray have headed the budget conference committee that formed after the government shutdown in October. Bipartisan agreements have been hard to come by in the last few years, and while this agreement is small in scope, it is already being lauded as an example of bipartisanship.
The deal includes:
- Nearly $63 billion in relief from sequestration over fiscal 2014 and 2015.
- $85 billion in total savings and $23 billion in net deficit reduction.
- A final spending level for the federal government of $1.012 trillion for FY14.
Federal spending for FY13 was $986 billion so this deal represents an increase in spending, and this increase in spending will be split evenly between defense and nondefense programs. This means that federal science funding agencies will probably not see a cut in their budgets this fiscal year, and some may even have an increase. It’s too early to guess at what that increase might be, but it will likely be a minimal increase that will not entirely make up for previous cuts due to sequestration.
The Ryan-Murray deal does not represent the end of the process. Rather, should it pass through Congress, this deal gives the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees an agreed upon spending level to work with. These committees, the entire Congress and President Obama must come to an agreement on how to spend this money by Jan. 15, or the government will again shutdown.
Complicating matters is that members of both political parties are already voicing concerns over the Ryan-Murray framework for a variety of reasons. Some Republicans feel sequestration is working well, and that government spending should shrink to the $967 billion level mandated by law. Some Democrats dislike that the deal does nothing to extend unemployment benefits past Dec. 31 while others are concerned about the federal workers who will have to contibute more to their pensions as part of this deal.
Nevertheless, the Ryan-Murray deal represents a positive step toward ending the seemingly endless gridlock regarding fiscal issues in Washington. The ASBMB supports the Ryan-Murray deal, and many of our partner organizations have indicated their support for the bill as well.
Follow the Policy Blotter as we keep track of this and other important science funding stories.