Republican negotiators reached final budget resolution as described here on the House Budget Committee site. Last week there was some back and forth between House and Senate Republicans about some spending issues but all the hold-ups were cleared and by week’s end it was passed by the House by a vote of 226-197 late Thursday.
The resolution does allow Congress to spend $38 billion more for the Defense Department and does it by keeping the sequestration/ceilings in place by allowing Congress to call the spending “emergency” and thus not counted toward budget caps. The original budget agreement written into law (unlike a budget resolution) placed equal budget caps on defense and domestic spending with a belief that the only way conservatives could get more money for defense was to also allow increases in domestic spending. Congress can pass a defense bill with increased spending but the President could veto or if he signed it without a change to the budget caps it could cause across-the-board cut to the defense budget later this year. As part of a brewing strategy late Thursday, there were attempts in the House at a possible alliance between some House conservative Republicans and Liberal Democrats to strip out emergency spending in any of the defense accounts.
Beyond the defense debate and cap spending cap fight, the budget resolution allows a reconciliation. But narrows it to fewer committees including Senate Finance and HELP and House Ways and Means and Education and Workforce. It is intended at least for now to be an avenue for the Congress to repeal the ACA but that could be influenced by a pending Supreme Court ruling likely to be released in the next several weeks. They could also use the reconciliation to go after key entitlement programs such as Medicaid and SSBG but not SNAP.
The Congress could still replace the caps. That could happen later in the year when we get closer to the October 1 appropriation deadline and start of the fiscal year. There is also the issue of raising the debt ceiling. The reconciliation can be used to do that but the resolution requires a super-majority vote in the Senate to allow that to happen.