The 6 Vicious Budget Wars that Will Happen in Congress this Year

BudgetOne thing is sure. The new 114th Congress is going to be a budget battleground. Whether Obama and the Democrats continue their fiscal rampage or Conservatives manage to get federal spending under control will depend on Republican strategy.
The GOP leadership has promised to use their control of the House and Senate to scale the size of government, and even entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security are on the table.

Obama, on the other hand, has vowed to use his veto power, putting Republicans on notice they will have to act carefully to avoid a government shutdown and position themselves to regain the presidency next year.

Here are the key dates:

February 2: Obama’s budget deadline

The president is required under the law to submit his budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday of February, which in 2015 falls on the second day of the month…

Obama administration officials have hinted that the proposed spending level for defense [because of the fight against ISIS] will bust the cap set by the Budget Control Act of 2011. If Congress doesn’t raise or remove the cap before next October, across-the-board spending cuts could take effect…

February 27: DHS funding runs out

GOP leaders will have two months to decide how to handle funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the rest of the fiscal year. The $1.1 trillion spending bill Congress passed at the end of the lame-duck session only extended DHS funding through February and did not allow for any spending increases.

Republican leaders chose the short-term solution to satisfy conservatives who demanded action to defund Obama’s immigration actions…

March 15: Debt limit suspension expires

Congress in February approved a “clean” increase of the debt ceiling that authorized the Treasury Department to borrow as needed, without limit, through March 15, 2015.

That arrangement ends on March 15, when the debt limit will automatically take effect. At that point, Treasury is expected to use “extraordinary measures” to meet the government’s fiscal obligations through the late summer or even early fall.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly promised he will not allow the U.S. to default, but GOP leaders are facing new pressure to demand spending cuts in exchange for a debt increase — something Obama and Democrats are likely to resist…

April 1: GOP budget resolution?

Following in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) footsteps as House Budget chairman, [Representative Tom] Price is likely to unveil a budget resolution in the spring that would direct appropriators to rein in federal spending.

It’s possible that Price and the budget chairman in the Senate, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), will release a joint proposal to keep the two chambers on the same page…

Instead of raising the sequestration budget caps for fiscal 2016, Price has said he wants to maintain those limits, but eliminate the firewall between defense and non-defense spending. Dissolving that boundary, Price said, would give Congress the flexibility to allocate more money to the military and less to domestic programs.

Obama would have to sign legislation that would destroy the firewall, and it’s unclear whether he’d take that chance, given the risk of decreased funding for social programs favored by Democrats.

If the budget resolutions pass in both chambers, lawmakers would have to go to conference and work on an agreement. The agreement could contain reconciliation instructions for relevant committees that could involve rolling back ObamaCare, tax reform or changes to energy policy.

September 30: Shutdown deadline

The government must pass legislation funding the government by Sept. 30 or the government will shut down…

October 1: Fiscal 2016 begins

The new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, by which point the budget brawl by Obama and the GOP may have run its course.

If the two sides find a compromise, it’s possible they will have found a way to avoid the automatic spending cuts that could be triggered across the government under sequestration.

Nobody in Washington, however, is confident there will be bipartisan cooperation on this highly charged issue. Obama’s socialist agenda is simply incompatible with the Republicans’ commitment to balancing the budget.

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