President Donald Trump signed a new budget bill, H.R. 1892, into law on Friday that pushes most of the difficult budget debate issues into March while funding defense, opioid addiction, infrastructure and more for two years.
H.R. 1892 was originally titled “The Hometown Heroes Act” and was intended to allow the flying of the U.S. Flag at half-staff in the event of the death of a first responder in the line of duty. That provision remained in the bill, but the short title was changed to the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”
The law ends sequestration, automatic budget cuts to both defense and non-defense spending, and drastically increases funding for Defense and non-defense areas over the next two years, but it only funds the remainder of the government until March 23rd setting up another possible government shutdown.
The budget deal doesn’t deal with immigration and Democrats haven’t put forth any serious proposals. As the short-term funding measure is set to end on March 23rd and DACA is set to expire on March 5th, Dems will have to get serious about compromise or risk taking the blame for another government shutdown and the deportation of DACA recipients in the same month.
Discretionary defense spending is increased by $80 billion in 2018 and $85 billion in 2019 and another $71 billion and $69 billion are provided for contingency funding in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The discretionary cap increase and contingency funding together increase the defense department’s budget to $700 billion in 2018 and $716 billion in 2019. If sequestration rules had been left in place, the Pentagon would have been limited to just $549 billion this year with which to defend the nation.
Nondefense discretionary funding was raised by $63 billion in 2018 and $68 billion in 2019. The end of sequestration and the increased funding raise nondefense spending by $131 billion.
- $90 billion was made available for hurricane recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017
- The bill sets aside $20 billion for infrastructure projects which is a small portion of the $1.5 trillion the president wants for a massive federal infrastructure program
- $4 billion to the Veterans Administration to relieve the backlog of veterans needing treatment
- $6 billion to fight the opioid crisis
- $7 billion for community health centers
- Fully funds CHIP for four years
- instructs Secretary of Energy to sell $350 million worth of crude from the strategic petroleum reserves and deposit the funds in the “Energy Security and Infrastructure Modernization Fund”
- fixes the Medicare Part D “donut hole”
- several changes relating to Medicare and the care of the chronically ill
- improvements for foster care kids and adoption
- inclusion of lottery winnings in determinations of Medicaid eligibility
- establishes a committee to improve the solvency of multi-employer pension plans
- establishes a committee to fix the budget process