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Budget's Goods and Bads

While the US budget deal signed last week covers two fiscal years, ScienceInsider's Jeffrey Mervis reports that it might mean tight funding for fiscal year 2017.

Mervis says that deep in the text of the bill, there is a provision that adds $50 billion this year and $30 billion next year to the spending caps put in places by the 2011 sequester. For 2016, he notes that the increase will mean a 5 percent increase in discretionary spending, but for 2017, those added funds will only amount to a 0.3 percent in discretionary spending, an amount he says won't keep pace with inflation. That's because the increase over is the 2011 spending level, not the 2016 one.

This means "basically flat funding in 2017 from a higher baseline," Matthew Hourihan, an AAAS budget analyst, says. He adds, though, that there's an upside as the deal also includes "a cumulative 4 percent increase in [discretionary] spending over two years. That's not bad."

Still, Mervis adds that it's a temporary deal as once 2018 comes around, the spending caps go back into effect — potentially leading to a $6 billion drop in discretionary spending — unless another solution is found.

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