House and Senate Republicans reach budget deal

The House of Representatives has reached a deal with the Senate on the parameters of next year’s budget, the first agreement on a federal spending bill in six years. Negotiated by the Republican majority in both houses, the non-binding resolution calls for increased military spending beyond sequestration levels, and cuts to social programs like education and Medicare.

While no implementation of any specific spending targets will be enacted if the bill is passed, the legislation as currently drafted will use a procedural method in the Senate known as “reconciliation” to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simply majority of 51 votes. Normally, 60 votes are required to pass legislation in Congress’ upper-chamber.

The agreement’s military spending goes over capped levels originally set in 2011 by setting up a special off-budget war operations fund, which will increase the Pentagon’s budget by $38 billion. Domestic spending will remain as legally required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. If none of the spending caps are ultimately lifted though, federal outlays will remain flat at approximately $1 trillion for fiscal year 2016.

Despite it’s conservative nature, the budget outline could have been worse for liberal Democrats in Congress. Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program would have privatized the health care system for most seniors, but didn’t have enough support in the Senate to be included in the final compromise bill.