On May 5, 2015, the U.S. Senate voted 51-48 to pass a $1.12 trillion bicameral 2016 budget resolution. The resolution passed the House on April 30, 2015. The resolution is non-binding and operates as a broad spending plan to guide Congress’s consideration of appropriations bills that Congress considers each year. The resolution includes a number of notable provisions, including spending cuts that would balance the budget within ten years and a reconciliation process that would allow Republicans to send legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to President Obama without Democratic opposition. All Senate Democrats and two Republicans voted against the resolution.
The reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution direct each of five congressional committees with jurisdiction over various parts of the ACA—namely, the Senate Finance Committee; the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and the House Ways and Means Committee—to propose legislation that would achieve $1 billion in savings over the 10-year period from 2016 through 2025. Under the budget reconciliation process, budget-related legislation can pass with only a simple majority vote in the Senate, rather than the usual 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. President Obama has promised to veto any bill repealing the ACA. The budget conference report is available here or here.
The budget resolution calls for repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is the 15-member administrative board created by the ACA to monitor Medicare spending growth and recommend cuts to Medicare spending levels. Positions on the controversial board have yet to be filled.
The budget plan would also, among other things, decrease spending on domestic programs by $5.3 trillion over a 10-year period, impose no tax increases, and increase defense spending to fund war operations.