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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR MAY 11, 2010:

Budget and Policy Update


FY 2011 Budget Resolution

While the Senate Budget Committee adopted its $3.7 trillion Budget Resolution on April 22 there is still no official word on when the Resolution will be brought up for consideration on the Senate floor.  House leaders continue to work on reaching an agreement with fiscal conservatives within the Democratic caucus in order to bring up a Budget Resolution for FY 2011.  If the House and Senate do not adopt a final Budget Resolution lawmakers could turn to a process called “deeming” to set caps on discretionary spending for the 12 annual appropriations bills, or leadership could try and move the appropriations bills without such guidance.

The Senate resolution (S. Con. Res. 60) endorses President Obama’s 3 year spending freeze on domestic discretionary spending but it further cuts the administration’s foreign affairs spending request by $4 billion.  More fiscally conservative members would like to go beyond the administration’s spending freeze and see a 2% cut on all domestic discretionary spending over the next 3 years. An agreement needs to be reached between the House and Senate on spending limits in order to permit the Appropriations Committees to begin to process the FY 2011 spending bills. 

The Administration Seeks New Authority over Spending
 
President Obama plans to ask Congress to pass legislation that would give him greater authority to cut already-enacted spending.  This authority, known as enhanced rescission authority, tries to strike a balance between current budget procedures and the line-item veto.  Under the proposed plan, the President would have 45 working days after a bill is enacted to send Congress a package of funding the administration would like cut or rescinded.  These resolutions would apply only to the discretionary funding under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committees.  Congress would then vote up or down on the package of spending cuts within 25 working days.  The Administration plans to send the proposal to Congress before the Memorial Day recess.

Appropriations Chairman Obey to Retire

On May 5, House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey announced he would not seek another term at the end of the current Congress.  While no official announcement has been made it is widely speculated that Norm Dicks, the next most senior Democrat on the committee, will take over the role of Chairman.  Chaka Fattah, of Pennsylvania, however has announced that he will run for the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee.  With Obey’s retirement several Appropriations Subcommittees could see new chairmen in the next Congress, as Obey is also currently Chairman of Labor-HHS Subcommittee.  As the Labor-HHS subcommittee will get a new chair this could launch a series of changes in the subcommittee leadership as more junior members get the opportunity to move up or select new subcommittees to chair.

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