Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 simply extended the deal made under the terms of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 for two more years, changing the discretionary spending limits and the direct spending sequestration through fiscal year 2025. As it became clear with the fiscal year approaching its end, negotiations would be required between the Republicans in Congress and the Obama White House. The discretionary spending limits were considered by both parties, in general, as too low to accommodate desired levels for domestic and defense spending.
This had occurred in preface to the agreement reached two years earlier with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, though that bill was primarily an agreement reached between Senator Patty Murray, Senate Budget Committee Chairman, and Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (who would go on to become Speaker of the House in the next 116th Congress).
In the case of the BBA 2015, neither Budget Committee were involved in the negotiations, and the then Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Tom Price, was specifically told to “stand down” by Speaker John Boehner, when he offered to engage the White House in budget talks — this was an exchange that occurred during a Republican Conference meeting.
Debt Ceiling. BBA 2015 does not increase the limit on the public debt, but instead suspends its application from its date of enactment (November 2, 2018) through March 15, 2017.
Discretionary Spending Increases in in Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. BBA 2015 raised the discretionary spending limits by $50 billion in fiscal year 2016 and $30 billion in fiscal year 2017. Each category, defense and non-defense, are treated equally and receive the same increases. The spending limits after fiscal year 2017 were not altered, but were later increased by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
Spending Decreases. BBA 2015 ostensibly offsets these increases in spending by corresponding decreases, though they happen over 10 years while the spending occurred in the first two years. The main program reductions are as follows:
- It included an extension of the sequestration of direct spending programs set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-25). They had been set to expire, and the BBA 2015 extended the reductions by a year, through fiscal year 2025.
- It changed federal health programs, including lowering Medicare reimbursements for new off-campus hospital outpatient departments and repeal of automatic enrollment in employer-based health insurance plans that was mandated by the Affordable Care Act;
- It set forth policies intended to improve tax compliance by partnerships;
- It increased premiums for federal pension insurance provided by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (and made other changes);
- It sold federal assets: including additional broadcast spectrum and oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve;
- It made certain changes requiring medical reviews under the disability insurance program and made a reduction in payments under the crop insurance program.
Public Law 114–74, 129 Stat. 584, Nov. 2, 2015
Statutes at Large
[BCR § 296b]