Spending Caps Could Come Roaring Back in 2020

Spending Caps Could Come Roaring Back in 2020

REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

Congress has busted through its self-imposed spending caps for this year and next, enabling the government to spend billions more that the limits imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 raised the caps significantly, resulting in the authorization of about $1.4 trillion in discretionary spending authority for this fiscal year.

But a new report from the Congressional Budget Office reminds lawmakers that those budget caps are still effect and will reduce authorized spending levels starting in 2020 – that is, assuming lawmakers don’t pass another bill enabling them to effectively ignore the caps.  

If the caps do come back into play without further adjustment from Congress, they would reduce federal spending by tens of billions of dollars.

Writing about the defense budget, Paul McLeary of Breaking Defense said the caps could potentially drop “the Pentagon’s budget by a full $71 billion from 2019 levels.” The reduction in nondefense spending would likely be nearly as large.