Congress reached a provisional agreement to avoid a government shutdown before the election and fund operations through next March, The New York Times reports today.
But it may not be time to buy balloons and pop champagne quite yet. According to Marc Goldwein, the senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the tentative agreement – which Congress will officially vote on after the five- week recess that begins this Friday – won’t avert the year-end fiscal cliff we’ve detailed here before: The deep, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester will still be implemented automatically. Those cuts entail a 10 percent reduction in defense spending and slicing another eight percent off of non-defense spending.
“This is an agreement that Congress will continue business as usual and not get into food fights in advance of the election,” Goldwein explains, pointing out that the fiscal year starts on October 1. “It doesn’t fundamentally change our budget picture one way or the other. It’s a recognition that at least for the next three months, we’ll stick to the agreed to spending levels from the Budget Control Act of last summer. Passing this stopgap measure does nothing to prevent that sequester or other parts of the fiscal cliff from hitting at the very beginning of next year. It just averts a series of [budget-related] fights that could be taking place between now and December. “
Read more about the budget and impending fiscal cliff on CRFB's blog, and be sure to check out their recently launched Fix the Debt campaign.
Cliff image via Shutterstock.