A bipartisan congressional budget agreement that passed the House Thursday would avoid a government shutdown in January and set spending for defense and domestic programs. The Democratic-led Senate appears set to send the measure next week to President Barack Obama.
Key details of the agreement:
—Establishing overall non-war-related discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion for fiscal 2015. Discretionary spending is the money approved by Congress each year for agency operations. The House budget level had been $967 billion and the Senate $1.058 trillion for the year that runs through next Sept. 30. Fiscal 2013 discretionary spending was $986 billion.
—Easing the across-the-board “sequester” spending cuts by $63 billion over two years, split between defense and domestic programs. In the current fiscal year, defense would be set at a base budget of $520.5 billion and domestic programs at $491.8 billion.
—Increasing airline security fees from $5 to $11.20 for a typical round-trip ticket starting July 1, 2014. That would raise $13 billion over 10 years. Current fees are $2.50 per leg with a maximum fee of $10 for a round-trip with connecting flights or $5 for a nonstop round-trip fare.
—Reducing retirement benefits for working-age military retirees. The cost-of-living adjustment would be modified to equal inflation minus 1 percent. The changes would be phased in, with no change in the current year, a 0.25 percent reduction in December 2014 and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015. The change would not apply to retirees who left the service because of disability or injury. It would apply to retirees under the age of 62. The change would save $6 billion.
—Increasing by 1.3 percentage points the pension contributions paid by federal civilian workers hired after Jan. 1, 2014. The change would raise $6 billion.
—Restricting access to Social Security death records to prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns. The change would save $269 million.
—Raising premiums paid by corporations to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to guarantee pension benefits, a change that would raise $8 billion.
—Eliminating a requirement that the Maritime Administration reimburse other federal agencies for additional costs associated with shipping food aid on U.S. ships. This would save $731 million.
—Canceling $1.6 billion in unobligated balances in Justice and Treasury Department funds that seize assets from criminals.
—Capping the maximum government payment for contract employees at $487,000, indexed to inflation. Agencies could make exceptions for scientists, engineers and other specialists.
—Giving the Treasury Department greater access to prison data to prevent prisoners from claiming improper payments. This would save $80 million.
—Approving a U.S.-Mexico agreement on oil and gas exploration in waters outside their exclusive economic zones.
—Permanently extending a requirement that states receiving mineral lease payments contribute to the federal government’s administrative costs. This step would save $415 million.
—Extending Bureau of Customs and Border Protection user fees. This would raise $7 billion.