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Upcoming Congressional Fiscal Policy Deadlines

Feb 14, 2019 | Budget Process

Updated 2/14/2019: Congress is expected to vote this week on full appropriations for the remaining seven appropriations bills for the rest of fiscal year 2019. A previous continuing resolution (CR) ended a 35-day partial government shutdown on January 25. The three-week spending deal also implicitly included reauthorizations for a number of programs.

A CR funding the seven appropriations bills that had not been previously enacted lapsed at midnight on December 21, resulting in a partial government shutdown that affected activities ranging from Environmental Protection Agency inspections to national park operations. Five of 12 appropriations bills had previously been signed, including those funding the Department of Defense, veterans’ programs, and the legislative branch. 

Congress failed to meet two of its November 30 deadlines, with the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform failing to report its recommendations, while the pension committee did not even markup a proposal. The House of Representatives was considering, but did not vote on, a bill that would have extended tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017.

The next two years will include several predictable fiscal policy deadlines that will force congressional action. Many of these deadlines could bring additional costs if Congress acts irresponsibly, or they could present an opportunity for Congress to reduce deficits.

We will regularly update this tracker to help reporters, congressional staff, and others interested in fiscal policy keep tabs of major deadlines. We recommend that you bookmark it and come back to check in.

Congress will need to act on each of these dates or enact short-term extensions to move the deadlines.

Issue   Deadline   Potential 2019-2028 Cost   More Information
Funding the Government / Appropriations   February 15, 2019, for departments & agencies funded by remaining seven appropriations bills   None if Congress abides by budget caps   Partial shutdown began when Congress did not pass appropriations or short-term extension; shutdown ended after three-week spending measure was enacted. 
Q&A: Everything You Should Know About Government Shutdowns
Appropriations Watch
Expiring Authorizations   September 30, 2018, January 9, 2019 & February 15, 2019   TBD  

September 30: Land and Water Conservation Fund

January 9: Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards

February 15: Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, Violence Against Women Act, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Child Care Entitlement to States, EPA pesticide registration authorization

First Expiration of the 2017 Tax Bill: Medical Expense Deduction   December 31, 2018   $1 billion for 1 year; $30 billion if extended permanently   The deduction would shrink, covering expenses that exceed 10% of adjusted gross income instead of 7.5% currently.
“Tax Extenders” – 20+ tax breaks that expired in 2017   December 31, 2017
Must-act deadline: early 2019
  ~$10 billion for 1 year; $80 billion if extended permanently   Retroactively reinstated for 2017; currently expired for 2018. Can theoretically be reinstated before the start of the tax filing season (typically mid-to-late January 2019).
Lift Debt Ceiling   March 2, 2019
Must-act deadline: several months later
  N/A   The debt limit was suspended by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 through March 2019. Treasury will be able to use “extraordinary measures” past that point to avoid breaching the debt ceiling. 
Q&A: Everything You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling
National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Needed   May 31, 2019   TBD   The House and Senate elected to extend the deadline for another five months at the end of December. More on NFIP
Increased Defense/Non-Defense Discretionary Caps   October 1, 2019   One-year: $125 billion; up to $1.7 trillion if extended   The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 set funding levels for 2018 and 2019. Sequester-level caps return for FY 2020 and 2021. Discretionary spending caps are scheduled to fall by $125 billion between 2019 and 2020.
Paid Family Leave Credit Expires   December 31, 2019   $5 billion for 1 year; $30 billion if extended permanently       The 2017 tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), created a paid leave credit that expires at the end of 2019. 
 
ACA Taxes Reinstated   December 31, 2019   $15 billion for 1 year; $155 billion if extended permanently  

Includes the delays of the medical device tax and health insurance tax from the January 2018 CR. Three-Week Funding Deal Includes $30 Billion in Tax Cuts

Alcohol Taxes   December 31, 2019   $5 billion for 1 year; $10 billion through 2028   Provisions from TCJA modifying the rates of taxation of beer, wine, and distilled spirits and certain other rules expire at the end of 2019.

Longer-Term Deadlines 

  • 2022: Highway Trust Fund exhaustion
  • 2022: Various tax provisions expire: amoritization of research & experimentation costs, interest deduction rules, Cadillac tax delay
  • 2023: Full expensing tax phase-out begins; continues until 2027
  • 2025: Multiemployer Pension Insurance Fund exhaustion
  • 2026: TCJA individual income tax provisions expire
  • 2026: Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Trust Fund exhaustion
  • 2027: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund exhaustion
  • 2032: Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund exhaustion

These trust fund exhaustion dates are estimates provided by the Congressional Budget Office. The Social Security Trustees project slightly different dates of 2032 for Disability Insurance and 2034 for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance.