I’m sorry if this is something you already know: Congress came to a bipartisan deal that will allow for an increase in spending.
On Wednesday, lawmakers unveiled a spending package worth $1.5 trillion that would fund the federal government through the end fiscal year. It included spending increases on almost everything and a spending freeze. It would significantly increase the funding of almost every agency other than defense, and it will also boost domestic spending. You can find more information here $730 billion is almost seven percent more than current funding. This measure will increase national defense funds to $782 billion. That’s a 6 percent increase. Politico reports.
The 2,700-page bill also includes $14 billion in “emergency funding” to help Ukraine, including $3.5 billion for new military equipment to be sent to Ukraine—because apparently the Pentagon’s $782 billion budget isn’t big enough to include that—and another $15 billion in COVID-19 relief funds.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the agreement, calling it “the largest increase non-defense discretionary spending for four years.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Shelby (R–Ala.Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who is the Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Republican, applauded the package because it included “dollar-for dollar parity for non-defense and defense increases,” and added that the bill “effectively addressed Republican priorities.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which reported yesterday that the deficit for the Federal Government was $475 billion in the five first months of fiscal year. It began October. This is an average daily deficit of $3 billion. Although it is likely that the deficit this year won’t be near record levels of the last two years, CBO’s projections indicate that there will still be a high number of deficits throughout the decade.
That projection, of course, is based on current law—in other words, it does not take into account additional spending like what’s contained in the new budget agreement. Hiking will increase future deficits, and only add to the national debt of $30 trillion.
These issues will not be discussed in depth before the bill becomes law. CBS News reported that “Party leaders wanted to whip the 2,741 page measure through the House by Wednesday, and then the Senate by the week’s end,” although the timing of the Senate’s vote was uncertain. The urgency to help Ukraine was what prompted lawmakers.
Yes, there’s nothing like a war—even one that the U.S. is not directly fighting—to get lawmakers to spend like there’s no tomorrow.
Inability of the federal government to balance its budget presents a formidable challenge for national security. Each dollar spent on interest payments to the national debt will be converted into dollars that cannot be used for future military and domestic spending programs. Inflation that is higher than expected makes this calculation more worrying. Higher interest rates are likely to drive up interest rates, which will lead to higher national debt service costs.
A bipartisan group tried to get their fellow lawmakers to notice the problem. They requested last month that the funding bill establish a commission to assess deficit reduction policies. “We owe it to our children,” the lawmakers wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.”To recognize our nation’s inexorable fiscal trajectory, and work together across the aisle to rectify it over time,”
These provisions are not in Wednesday’s text. It’s not surprising, though. It’s not difficult to agree on two points in Congress: increasing spending and disregarding the obvious implications of doing so. Both of those points are met by the latest deal.