Congress passes 2014 budget: Bipartisanship aides bill

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By Matt Olson

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion spending budget that will fund the government throughout the 2014 fiscal year. The Democrat-led Senate unsurprisingly approved the bill the next day, and President Obama signed the bill into law.

The budget eliminates the possibility of a second government shutdown within this fiscal year.

The 2013 government shutdown lasted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, until a temporary appropriations bill was passed by the Congress in lieu of a full budget.

The bill outlines the federal government’s expenditures, a majority of which will involve military spending. In 2013, the United States spent nearly $700 billion on the military. For the 2014 fiscal year, the projected military spending will comprise about 57 percent of the discretionary spending.

The budget only outlines the discretionary spending for 2014; it does not outline a budget on mandatory spending. Mandatory spending is enforced by federal law and to which Congress can make no changes. Social Security and Medicare comprise a majority of mandatory expenditures.

The bill gained bipartisan support because it is advantageous for both parties. The Democrats will enjoy a $1 billion increase in the Head Start program, which goes toward educating young children. The Republicans voted for the bill in a compromise that will reduce spending to the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a CNN report.

Perhaps one of the most controversial political issues over the past year, Affordable Care (otherwise known as Obamacare), saw no major decrease in funding. The Affordable Care Act’s mandate on health insurance was expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, but saw delays and is now expected to begin on March 1.

The passing of the budget came as a surprise to some individuals who believed that the heavily partisan Congress would not come to a compromise on such an important bill.

TIME Magazine columnist Alex Rogers believes that other than the budget, not many compromises will be made in Congress this year. “Reforms to immigration policy, the National Security Agency and the health care reform law have been, and will remain, under the purview of the White House,” he said. Many of these policies will continue to be addressed solely by the executive branch.

Six percent of the budget is devoted to interest on federal debt, which is climbing steadily. As of Jan. 20, the debt was just over $17 trillion, or $54,430 per capita. This fiscal year, the debt is expected to increase by nearly $750 billion.

 

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