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Upcoming Congressional Fiscal Policy Deadlines

Aug 22, 2018 | Budget Process

The next two years contain several predictable fiscal policy deadlines that will force Congressional action. Many of these deadlines could bring additional costs if Congress acts irresponsibly or could represent a moment 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 Ten-Year Cost   More Information
Funding the Government / Appropriations   October 1   None if Congress abides by budget caps. Possible cap adjustment for VA could cost >$55 billion over the decade.   Shutdown occurs if Congress does not pass appropriations or short-term extension. 
Q&A: Everything You Should Know About Government Shutdowns
VA Cap Adjustment Could Cost Over $55 Billion
End of Fiscal Year Expirations    October 1   TBD   Farm bill, Violence Against Women Act, FAA reauthorization, Animal Drug User Fee Act, Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, and Land and Water Conservation Fund all need to be addressed.
National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Needed   November 30   TBD   The House and Senate elected to extend the deadline for another four months at the end of July. More on NFIP
Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform   November 30   TBD   Committee must vote on recommendations by November 30, which Congress must vote on before adjourning.  The Better Budget Process Initiative: Recommendations for the JSC
Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans   November 30   Potentially over $100 billion   Committee must vote on recommendations by November 30, which Congress must vote on before adjourning. 
Multiemployer Pensions: The Next Source of Budget-Busting Legislation?
First Expiration of the 2017 Tax Bill: Medical Expense Deduction   December 31   $2.5 billion for 1 year; $25 billion if extended permanently   The deduction would shrink, covering expenses that exceed 10% of adjusted gross income instead of 7.5% currently.
“Tax Extenders” – 30+ 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
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 & ACA Taxes Reinstated   December 31, 2019   ~$20 billion for 1 year; $185 billion if extended permanently       Includes the delays of the medical device tax and health insurance tax from the January 2018 CR and the expiration of a paid leave credit created by the 2017 tax bill. 
Three-Week Funding Deal Includes $30 Billion in Tax Cuts

Longer-Term Deadlines 

  • 2022: Highway Trust Fund Exhaustion
  • 2025: Multiemployer Pension Insurance Fund Exhaustion
  • 2025: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund Exhaustion
  • 2026: Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) 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.