According to a new forecast by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this year’s budget deficit will be almost a third bigger than was projected just five months ago.
For the first time since 2009, the deficit will increase relative to the size of the economy, amounting to 2.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to CBO’s annual Budget and Economic Outlook, a summary of which was released Tuesday. The deficit for FY16 will reach $544 billion, which is $130 billion more than was projected in August.
But unlike in 2009, when a recession led to a loss of revenue and growing government expenses, the new uptick in debt is “largely attributable” to tax and spending decisions made by Congress since August. Foremost among them was the omnibus package last month that made permanent about a dozen popular tax breaks. That package was estimated to add about $680 billion to cumulative deficits over the next decade.
GOP members argue that the tax cuts effectively pay for themselves because they spur economic growth, which in turn can generate more revenue. Democrats counter that argument, pointing to massive tax cuts adopted under Republican administrations that coincided with soaring deficits.
The CBO’s full report is scheduled to be released on January 25.
The Senate on Thursday voted 52-40 on a motion to invoke cloture and limit debate to override the president’s veto of a joint resolution intended to nullify the contentious Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule; falling short of the required 60 votes.
President Barack Obama vetoed the joint resolution of disapproval (SJ Res 22) on Tuesday, six days after the House voted on final passage.
WOTUS is the latest example of the EPA overreaching. The agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final regulation, which took effect in August, to clarify areas of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (PL 95-217) they say have been left unclear by U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The rulings issued different tests for determining which bodies of water are subject to regulation under the anti-pollution law.
The regulation, which became final in August 2015, is under a nationwide court-ordered stay while judges review legal challenges.
Industries ranging from agriculture to mining fought the WOTUS rule and gained the support of House Republicans and some moderate Democrats for legislation (H.R. 1732) that would have required the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to revoke the regulation and propose a new rule after following specific steps outlined in the bill. The House passed the bill in May on a 261-155 vote with 24 Democrats voting for it.
In November, Senate Republicans approved the resolution of disapproval with a 53-44 vote.
Today, Senate Democrats blocked a cloture motion, 55-43, to begin debate on a House-passed bill (H.R. 4038) that would bring to an end virtually all resettlement of Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the country. Sixty votes were required for cloture.
Republicans argued that the legislation, which cleared the House in November with an overwhelming majority, is needed after recent terrorist attacks perpetrated by Islamic extremists. But Democrats said the bill only feeds the fear and hatred stirred up by GOP presidential candidates.
The vote came after Democrats were unable to work out an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would allow them to get votes on amendments such as gun access and religious litmus tests.
Next week in Congress, the House is canceling its scheduled votes on Monday in anticipation of the blizzard expected to hit the Washington region this weekend.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) office announced today that the chamber’s first votes of the week will instead take place Tuesday evening as lawmakers fly back to Washington.
The Senate has also announced it will push its first votes back until Tuesday afternoon.
The Office of Personnel Management has not yet issued a decision on whether to close the federal government on Friday, the day heavy snow is expected to start falling.
The House will have an even shorter workweek as a result of canceling Monday’s votes. Lawmakers were already only scheduled to be in session through Wednesday to accommodate a Democratic Party retreat in Baltimore.