For those looking for what is in the bill that passed Congress today and the president signed, ending a months-long stalemate between the two parties, here's a breakdown below. (Click here for the full legislation.)
The Budget Control Act of 2011
1. Ten-year discretionary caps with sequester
a. Enforces limits on discretionary spending until 2021
2. Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment
a. Requires that the House of Representatives and the Senate vote on a joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
b. Reinstates and modifies certain budget process rules.
c. Allows for certain amounts of additional spending for “program integrity” initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of improper benefit payments.
3. Debt Ceiling disapproval process
a. Debt ceiling disapproved and budget goal enforced
b. If the committee cannot come up with a solution to the deficit by the end of 2011, $1.2 trillion dollars will be cut – half from defense spending and half from non-defense spending, such as possibly from Medicare
4. Joint Select Committee on deficit reduction
a. Establishes a procedure to increase the debt limit by $400 billion initially and procedures that would allow the limit to be raised further in two additional steps, for a cumulative increase of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion
b. Creates a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further deficit reduction, with a stated goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years
c. Establishes automatic procedures for reducing spending by as much as $1.2 trillion if legislation originating with the new joint select committee does not achieve such savings.
5. Pell Grant and student loan program changes
a. Makes changes to the Pell Grant and student loan programs.
b. Terminates authority to make interest subsidized loans to graduate and professional students.
c. Terminates direct loan repayment incentives.