Dear Mr. Boehnke:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, an agreement that Chairman Ryan and I reached that sets government funding levels through Fiscal Year 2015.
As you may know, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) was introduced on December 10, 2013, and was passed by both the House and the Senate with strong bipartisan support. This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction in Congress to prevent another government shutdown and scales back sequestration's harmful cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way.
The agreement provides $63 billion in sequester relief over two years and is split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The BBA includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions both from spending and new revenue, with savings totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement also reduces the deficit by $23 billion.
Reaching an agreement was crucial in protecting the fragile economic recovery. The BBA puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back automatic and harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments, and defense jobs for the next two years. It won't solve every problem the automatic cuts have caused, but it is a dramatic improvement over the status quo.
Among its most important effects, the BBA allowed us to pass appropriations bills with enough funding to eliminate the need for furloughs of DoD civilian employees in 2014, and to provide the training and readiness our armed forces need to protect the nation. Last year the VA almost had to stop paying veterans claims and benefits because of the government shutdown. The BBA ensures that will not happen this year.
I have heard from many Washingtonians who have expressed concern over the federal employee and military retiree pension provisions contained within the BBA. I understand the frustrations that federal employees, servicemembers, and retirees feel over these changes after honorably serving our nation for decades. These provisions were incredibly difficult to agree to. I said on the floor of the Senate before the vote on the BBA that I would work to find better options to replace these provisions. Since then, a number of proposals have been put forward in the Senate and I will continue to work with my colleagues to address this issue.
The BBA is not the budget that I would have written on my own – nor is it what Chairman Ryan would have written on his own – it is a compromise. It does, however, put an end to Congress' recent pattern of governing from crisis to crisis. While there is much more to be done, the BBA is a meaningful step in the right direction, rebuilds some trust, and will serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.
United States Senator