Late Wednesday night, the House passed – and President Obama signed – a budget deal hammered out by the Senate to end the federal government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, narrowly avoiding the threat of default. (The Treasury Department estimated that the U.S. would come perilously close to running out of cash to pay its bills by Thursday.) Here’s what the bill does:
What the bill leaves undone is a plan to fund the government after January 15. To that end, House and Senate leaders have agreed to meet in a conference committee on the FY 2014 budget, with the goal of reaching agreement on a budget plan for the remainder of the year by mid-December.
Conferees will attempt to reconcile the FY 2014 budgets passed by the House and the Senate earlier this year – hardly an easy task. The Senate-passed budget protects core safety net programs, proposes new investments to expand early childhood programs and grow the economy, and calls for a balanced package of revenue increases and spending cuts to replace the sequester; in contrast, the House-passed budget would end the sequester only for defense programs, while making even deeper cuts to programs that support low-income Americans and giving trillions in tax cuts to millionaires and corporations.
The upcoming negotiations present an opportunity for Congress to move past the damage caused by the shutdown and the threat of default and on to measures that can produce a far more widely shared recovery. Women and their families need a budget that that ends the sequester, protects programs that lower-income Americans depend on to make ends meet, requires the wealthiest Americans and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, and makes investments to grow the economy. As the budget debates continue, I hope our leaders in Washington resolve to set aside political games and move forward with these goals in mind.