Budget Battle Deadlines for 2015: Immigration, Debt Ceiling and 2016 Federal Budget

Today marks the first day of the Republican-controlled 114th Congress, where 74 brand new, newly-elected members will swear in with other members of Congress.

In a previous post, we brought you three New Years’ resolutions for Congress. Now that the new year and new Congress have started, here are some deadlines for lawmakers to keep in mind if they want to keep those resolutions:

February 27: Deal with Immigration and Fund the Department of Homeland Security

The CROmnibus passed last month funded most areas of government through the rest of fiscal year 2015. The exception was the Department of Homeland Security, which only got temporary funding through February 27 to allow Congress to revisit the President’s executive order on immigration. Congress will need to come up with a plan that funds DHS and deals with immigration, a hot-button issue over the past year.

March 15: Deal with the debt limit

Last February, Congress agreed to suspend the debt ceiling, or the legal limit Congress places on its own borrowing, until March 15, 2015. Every time the federal debt reaches the debt ceiling, lawmakers have to pass a law to raise the limit in order to prevent the government from defaulting on its loan payments. In the past, lawmakers have not agreed on how to raise the debt ceiling, and this time around will likely be no different. The debt ceiling suspension expires on March 15, but even if the suspension is allowed to expire, the nation may not meet the resulting debt ceiling for some months after that, so this deadline has some uncertainty.

September 30: Pass a fiscal year 2016 budget

Congress needs to pass a budget that matches the priorities of Americans and hasn’t done so for the past 20 years. The battle will begin in early February, when the president is slated to release his 2016 budget proposal, and will likely last through September 30, the last day of the fiscal year.

 In addition to these three big battles, Congress has a lot on their list of to-dos, including tax reform, the Keystone XL pipeline, and more. We’ll be keeping an eye on them to see what lawmakers prioritize in their first days in office.

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