The Senate passed a budget resolution for the first time in four years on March 23 that calls for reducing the federal deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years. The Senate also approved provisions in the resolution for Fiscal year 2014 that would restore the $85 billion cut from the Fiscal Year 2013 budget under the sequestration order issued by the White House this month.
After 13 hours of voting on various amendments and early-morning deal brokering in response to frustrated Republicans, the Senate voted to pass the budget by a close 50-49 vote. The resolution is not legally binding but only serves as a guide to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which must begin writing legislation to fund federal agencies for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2013.
Keeping in line with earlier draft language, Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) was able to retain a $100 billion jobs and infrastructure package in the fiscal 2014 budget, which includes a $50 billion infusion to fix the nation’s most deficient bridges, airports and transit systems, keeping in line with President Obama’s fix it first concept for infrastructure investment.
“The Senate budget tackles our deficit and debt the way the American people have told us they want it done: with a balanced mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations,” the budget document said.
The House passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget earlier in March. The budget passed with a vote of 221-207. Instead of calling for an overhaul in how we fund infrastructure, the Ryan budget intends for the federal government to only spend what the gas tax brings in rather than continue to supplement the Highway Trust Fund with general fund transfers. This direction would effectively cut about a third of federal government spending on surface transportation. Currently, the gap between what gets spent out of the Highway Trust Fund and what the trust fund brings in is around $15 billion a year.
The House budget also identifies the U.S. Department of Transportation as a department that offers “a number of areas where spending could be cut back responsibly.” It goes on further to state that the federal formula for spending on surface transportation is “distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible and often downright wasteful spending.”
The House Budget Resolution can be seen here.
The Senate Budget Resolution can be seen here.