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President Trump Signs Debt Limit, Budget Caps Deal After Senate Passage; Congress In Recess Until Sept. 9

  • August 5, 2019
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President Trump signed major bipartisan legislation today that allocates more than $2.7 trillion in discretionary federal spending over two years; suspends the debt ceiling until July 2021; and permanently eliminates the prospect of strict "sequestration" spending caps imposed under the Budget Control Act of 2011. ( The Hill , Aug. 2) 

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After passing the budget deal yesterday, the Senate left for summer recess, following the House's exit last week.  Congress will reconvene on September 9.

  • The legislation – a result of weeks of negotiations between Democratic congressional leaders and the White House – passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 67-28 after the House last week approved it 284-149.  (Roundtable Weekly, July 26).  President Trump tweeted yesterday in support of the bill. 
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday commented on the bill: "In recent weeks, key officials on President Trump's team engaged in extensive negotiations with Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic House.  Given the exigencies of divided government, we knew that any bipartisan agreement on funding levels would not appear perfect to either side. But the administration negotiated a strong deal." (CNN, August 1) 
  • Notably, the budget deal puts an end to the threat of sequestration, which would have imposed a mandatory 10 percent cut on all programs if budget targets were not met.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said yesterday, "For too long, the arbitrary, draconian limits of sequester have hampered our ability to invest in working Americans and in our military readiness. This deal ends the threat of sequester permanently. That is huge." (Schumer Floor Remarks, August 1) 
  • President Trump has indicated he wanted to eliminate budget brinkmanship in Washington that last year resulted in the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history – while obtaining a two-year budget allocation until after the 2020 presidential election.  (Wall Street Journal, August 1) 
  • After passing the budget deal yesterday, the Senate left for summer recess, following the House's exit last week.  Congress will reconvene on September 9. 
  • Policymakers will face a tight deadline upon their return as they will need to set federal appropriations for individual agencies and departments for FY'20.  Current FY'19 funding runs out on September 30, as does legislative authority for the National Flood Insurance and EB-5 investment programs.  

If Congress and President Trump cannot agree on how to allocate the $1.37 trillion in discretionary money allotted for the new fiscal year beginning October 1, a stopgap funding measure (or "Continuing Resolution") may be required.

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