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WEB EXTRA: A Look at the Congressional Budget Agreement

Updated: 12/19/2013 7:48 AM
Created: 12/11/2013 8:25 AM KSTP.com
By: Scott Theisen

The budget agreement passed by Congress sets spending limits for two years and averts a possible government shutdown in January. It increases government deficits in 2014 and 2015 but reduces them over 10 years by a total of $23 billion.
    
Key details:
    
-Establishes overall non-war-related discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion for the current fiscal year and $1.014 trillion for fiscal 2015. Discretionary spending is the money approved by Congress each year for agency operations. The House budget level had been $967 billion and the Senate $1.058 trillion for the year that runs through next Sept. 30. Fiscal 2013 spending was $986 billion.
    
-Eases across-the-board "sequester" spending cuts by $63 billion over two years, split between defense and domestic programs. In the current fiscal year, defense would be set at a base budget of $520.5 billion and domestic programs at $491.8 billion.
    
-Raises airline security fees from $5 to $11.20 for a typical round-trip ticket starting July 1, 2014. That would raise $13 billion over 10 years. Current fees are $2.50 per leg with a maximum of $10 for a round trip with connecting flights or $5 for a round trip with non-stops.
    
-Reduces retirement benefits for working-age military retirees, including those who retire early because of disability. Starting Dec. 1, 2015, the cost-of-living adjustment for pensions received by people under 62 would be modified to equal inflation minus 1 percent. Upon reaching 62, retirees would receive a "catch-up" increase that would restore their pensions to levels as if the cost-of-living adjustment had been the full consumer price index in all previous years. The change would save $6 billion.
    
-Increases by 1.3 percentage points the pension contributions paid by federal civilian workers hired after Jan. 1, 2014. The change would raise $6 billion.
    
-Restricts access to Social Security death records to prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns. The change would save $269 million.
    
-Raises premiums paid by corporations to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to guarantee pension benefits, a change that would raise $8 billion.
    
-Eliminates a requirement that the Maritime Administration reimburse other federal agencies for additional costs associated with shipping food aid on U.S. ships. This would save $731 million.
    
-Cancels $1.6 billion in unobligated balances in Justice and Treasury Department funds that seize assets from criminals.
    
-Caps the maximum government payment for contract employees at $487,000, indexed to inflation. Agencies could make exceptions for scientists, engineers and other specialists.
    
-Gives the Treasury Department greater access to prison data to prevent prisoners from claiming improper payments. This would save $80 million.
    
-Approves a U.S.-Mexico agreement on oil and gas exploration in waters outside their exclusive economic zones.
    
-Permanently extends a requirement that states receiving mineral lease payments contribute to the federal government's administrative costs. This step would save $415 million.
    
-Extends Bureau of Customs and Border Protection user fees. This would raise $7 billion.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Photo: MGN Online

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