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Wednesday evening, the Senate voted 64-36 to pass the budget agreement crafted by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The House of Representatives passed the budget deal last week, meaning all that is left is for President Obama to sign, which he has indicated he will do.
The two-year budget raises the post-sequester discretionary spending level from a total of $967 billion to $1.012 trillion (an overall increase of $45 billion). It removes the threat of pending sequestration cuts for FY 2014 and 2015and provides Congressional appropriators with a bit of breathing room in both defense and nondefense discretionary accounts. Appropriators have already begun crafting legislation to provide the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations, possibly as a single omnibus bill. The continuing resolution funding the federal government expires on January 15, 2014; Congress has until then to approve spending (i.e., appropriations) legislation, in order to avert another government shutdown.
Senate Examines Tax Extenders
Also on Wednesday, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, released preliminary details on a possible tax extenders package. The Commuter Tax Benefit and the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit, both of which expire on December 31, 2013, could potentially be extended in such legislation. With the House adjourned for the year, any final action on tax extenders will not come until after the New Year.
APTA and our transportation allies have fought all year to see these two benefits extended prior to the end of the year. In particular, the Commuter Tax Benefit poses an immediate hardship on transit commuters, as they will see their pre-tax benefit reduced from $245 per month to $130 per month. A possible retroactive extension of the higher benefit level will mean that commuters lose those benefits for the months during which it lapses.
For questions on these issues, please contact Brian Tynan of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4897, or email@example.com.