CSBA: Caps Will Go Up, But BCA Will Likely Persist

With the 2016 President’s budget submission expected to roll out today, spending limits from the Budget Control Act could finally be lifted, said Todd Harrison, senior analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on Friday. Harrison, however, said hopes should be tempered, as budget trends since 2011 suggest its unlikely a permanent solution is imminent. The President is requesting roughly $35 billion more in DOD funding than budget caps allow, according to reports, some $534 billion that does not include contingency funding, Harrison said. If Congress appropriated this amount, it would result in a sequester, which would necessitate a change to caps in the law. Over the last several years, the President’s budget has steadily come down and BCA caps have been adjusted up. The two are just now converging, Harrison said. For Fiscal 2016, Harrison forecasted, Congress will likely raise the budget caps but getting votes will not be easy. “If you raise the defense cap by $10 billion, and non defense discretionary spending by $10 billion, how do you offset that?” he asked. Another one- or two-year budget deal makes sense politically, as it will adjust spending upward but not fix BCA permanently. “I would expect another last minute deal,” he said. “And if they’re smart they’ll do a two-year deal, which puts (another decision) off until after the presidential election.” (Watch the event video and slides).