Budget Conference Committee

The Budget Conference Committee held its first meeting last Wednesday, October 30, during which member statements stressed the importance of agreement, yet highlighted their deep differences over spending and taxes. With House members back in their districts this week and the Senate scheduled to be out of session the following week, the next formal meeting of the full committee is scheduled for November 13. In the meantime, members are breaking into subgroups to discuss specific fiscal issues. For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is leading a group of committee members who also served on the Armed Services Committee to discuss sequestration replacement ideas, while tax writers on the committee are also meeting privately.

The first priority of the committee is to establish a FY 2014 discretionary funding cap. House and Senate appropriators are pushing the committee to set the topline spending level before Thanksgiving to allow them time to prepare a year-end spending package. The current FY 2014 Continuing Resolution expires on January 15, 2013, the same day the next round of $20 billion in sequestration cuts is scheduled to go into effect.

Debt Limit Disapproval Resolutions

Last week the Senate and House each held symbolic votes on the recent temporary debt limit increase. The Senate defeated a motion to proceed to its disapproval resolution, whereas the House passed it resolution (H.J. Res. 99) by a 222-191 vote.