In 2011, Congress passed the BCA which set spending levels for 2014 at $967 billion in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Democrats passed a budget this year that sets spending levels nearly $90 billion over that cap.
There is a $91 billion difference in spending levels between the House and Senate appropriations this year. For the THUD bill, the difference is $10 billion — setting up the potential for a challenging conference committee. The Senate bill is $54 billion, while the House has a $44 billion bill, which is a cut of $7 billion from last year’s spending level.
McConnell said he couldn’t support the spending bill because it would lead America down a path of “European-style austerity."
“A Democrat path to austerity, or a Republican path to reform and growth. These are the choices,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he chose to take up the THUD appropriations bill first to pressure Republicans into forming a budget conference committee between the House and Senate to work out spending level differences.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the THUD bill, defended the spending bill against a Republican budget point of order last week.
“If at the end of the fiscal year, we find that the appropriations bills that have been passed exceed the statutory cap in the Budget Control Act, then we should reopen the process and reallocate the funds across each of the subcommittees," Collins said. "How can we say the cap is breached when it’s the very first appropriations bill before us?”