In the coming months, Congress faces a deadline to reach
a new budget agreement. If Congress and the President fail to reach a budget deal that would lift the “caps,” both
non-defense discretionary (NDD) and defense discretionary programs will face deep cuts. NDD includes funding for criti- cal priorities, such as child care and early education, public health, education, and affordable housing. On average, failing to raise the caps would cut NDD programs by 11 percent in federal fiscal year (FY) 2020 (after adjusting for inflation). 1 In order to better understand the importance of why Congress must act to raise the caps, it is helpful to understand what exactly these “caps” are and the process by which Congress
could raise them.