House of Representatives
The first official meeting of the conference committee is expected to occur sometime next week, at which point the conferees will begin attempting to reconcile the Senate and House budget proposals. Both budgets were passed with largely partisan support, so both Democrats and Republicans will need to look toward compromises over the next two months.
Bipartisan discussions over how to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling are coming down to the wire as this week begins, with only three days left until October 17 -- the date that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the U.S. government would be left with a dangerously low amount of cash on hand and default could potentially be imminent.
Naturally, the country has been consumed by the developments (or lack thereof) in the government shutdown and debt ceiling impasse. But there is some movement on another piece of legislation which will need to pass before the end of the year: the farm bill. Last year, the farm bill was set to expire, but the fiscal cliff deal extended it for another year to give time for lawmakers to come to an agreement.
In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) presents a possible down payment on the debt as a way out of the government shutdown/debt ceiling impasse. The deal would involve entitlement reforms that have some bipartisan support and tax reform.
About the entitlement reforms, he writes:
Update: The Obama Administration has issued a veto threat for the bill, instead preferring that Congress pass a clean CR and debt ceiling increase.
Today, the Fix the Debt Campaign's Congressional Fiscal Leadership Council released an open letter signed by a group of 120 former Members of Congress, calling for the President and Congress to start addressing the nation's fiscal problems. The members express that returning to the normal budget process is essential, and recognize that while working toward a bipartisan agreement may be difficult, it is necessary:
As Congress negotiates a proposal to pass a continuing resolution and reopen the government, they may enact other policy at the same time. One such proposal was offered by the House Republicans on the eve of the shutdown, to permanently repeal the medical device tax and delay other aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
While it is incredibly disappointing that elected officials in Washington failed to avoid a government shutdown, attention is quickly turning towards raising the federal debt ceiling, which currently stands at $16.699 trillion.
Congress faces a number of looming fiscal crises this fall, and the first obstacle is just around the corner -- if lawmakers fail to pass legislation to fund federal programs before September 30, the government will shut down. Today, CRFB released a new Q&A for understanding government shutdowns and related issues, including continuing resolutions and the federal appropriations process. This new resource also provides a historical and legislative background to the upcoming fiscal
With the debt limit approaching and another showdown looming, the focus of some policymakers may naturally turn to how to avoid a similar potentially damaging impasse in the future. In that vein, Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) has introduced a bill which addresses both the need to raise the debt limit and the need to put the debt on a sustainable path.