Legislative Updates - Archives

<< BACK   

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR OCTOBER 26, 2011:

Appropriations & Policy Update


Finishing FY 2012 Appropriations


Fiscal Year 2012 began on October 1, 2011 with none of the FY 2012 appropriations bills passed in final form and signed by the President.  In order to provide the government with the authority to continue to operate the Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) on September 29 which kept the government funded through October 4.  On October 5 the President signed into law the second Continuing Resolution which funded the government through November 18.  While efforts have begun to bundle the 12 appropriations bills into as many as four separate packages or “minibuses” , it is all but certain that additional CRs will be needed to give the Congress more time to complete their work on FY 2012.  As background, in order to complete the bills in FY 2011, seven CRs were required with the final CR for the balance of the year not passed until April 15, seven months after the beginning of the fiscal year.  The last time all the bills were passed on time was 1997.


During the week of October 17 the Senate began debating a  “minibus” bill (HR 2112) that includes the  FY 2012  Agriculture Appropriations bill , the FY 2012 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill ( S. 1572) and the FY 2012 Transportation-HUD bill (S.1596).  The Senate reached agreement on October 21 to vote on final passage of the bill on October 31 when they return from a week long recess. It is expected that the third CR would be added to this “minibus” extending FY 2012 spending authority until mid-December. 


The status of all the regular appropriations bills is summarized in tables at the end of this report.   In brief,  the Senate Appropriations Committee has marked up and reported 10 of the bills, passing the Military Construction bill and taking no action on the Interior appropriations bill.  The full House has passed six of the bills and another three have been reported by the Committee.  In the House three of the bills (Labor-HHS-Education, State & Foreign Operations, and Transportation-HUD) have seen no Committee action and will be conferenced in one of the minibus packages.


The House Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee scheduled two markups of their bill, but because of sharp disagreement by the Republican members regarding funding levels for the bill, both were cancelled.  By passing this controversy, Congressman Rehberg, Chairman of the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee introduced the Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 3070), on the floor of the House , in order to have a baseline to begin negotiations with the Senate. 


The House bill provides $31.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $1 billion (3.3%) above the current year’s level and $1.2 billion more than provided in the Senate Appropriations Committee reported bill.   This increase for NIH, however was offset by deep cuts in many areas of the bill including total elimination of funds needed to implement the Affordable Care Act, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, Comparative Effectiveness Research at the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, and Planned Parenthood.   Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee has strongly opposed Chairman Rehberg funding and policy recommendations for the bill.  

On September 21 the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and reported S. 1599, the FY 2012 Labor-HHS-Education bill on a party line vote of 16 to 14. With a FY 2012 subcommittee spending ceiling significantly below the FY 2011 level, difficult decisions were necessary including reducing NIH $190 million (0.6%) below the FY 2011 level and cutting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program  by  $1.1 billion below the FY 2011 level.  Republican amendments to weaken and eliminate funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act failed on party line votes.


The Administration Takes a Position on the FY 2012 Appropriation Bills


In anticipation of conference negotiations, the Administration sent a six page letter to the Appropriations Committee Leadership on October 20, 2011 staking out its position on numerous spending issues.  The letter reinforced the Administration’s position by issuing a veto threat, as follows “If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical domestic priorities or national security through funding levels or language restrictions, contains earmarks, or fails to make the tough choices to cut where needed while maintaining what we need to spur long-term job creation and win the future, the President will veto the bill”. 


The full text of the letter may be found at:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/letters/letter-regarding-fy2012-appropriations-sent-to-senator-inouye-congressman-rogers--congressman-dicks-and-senator-cochran.pdf


The Special Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction

The Special Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 is charged with identifying at least $1.2 trillion in savings over a 10 year period.  The so called Super Committee continues to meet and work against the legislative deadline of November 23, 2011, to recommend specific deficit reduction proposals. While little specific information is available, there continues to be speculation and growing concern that the committee--- locked in partisan disagreements----may fail to reach it deficit reduction goals.  Below is the timeline for action by the Special Joint Committee:


August 16, 2011- Joint Commission members are appointed. (3 Democratic Senators, 3 Republican Senators, 3 Republican Representatives, 3 Democratic Representatives).
September 14, 2011- The first Joint Commission meeting is to be 45 days after the bill passes.
October 14, 2011- Each Senate & House committee may send Joint Committee recommendations for changes to reduce deficit by at least $1.5 trillion.
November 23, 2011- The Joint Commission votes on:
1. The report containing a detailed statement of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations and the estimate of the Congressional Budget Office; and
2. Proposed legislative language.
December 2, 2011- If the Joint Committee reaches an agreement by a majority vote, it then submits a report with legislative language to the President, Vice President and the Hill.
Next Legislative Day- The Joint Committee’s legislative language is introduced in the Senate and the House.
December 9, 2011- Any House and Senate Committee to which the Joint Committee’s language is referred must report it to the House and Senate without amendment.  If Committees fail to report by this day, the bill will be automatically discharged to the House and Senate.  In the Senate, the motion to proceed is not debatable.  Consideration and debate is limited to 30 hours. No amendments are in order.
December 23, 2011- Vote on Joint Committee bill in both House and Senate.
January 21, 2012- The Joint Committee sunsets and goes out of business.

The Budget Control Act of 2011


After a long and dramatic debate, both the House and Senate passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 providing for, among other measures, a debt ceiling increase thereby avoiding a default on the Nation’s financial obligations. The bill was signed by the President on August 2, 2011. 


The bill establishes a two-step increase in the federal debt-limit ceiling, beginning with a $900 billion increase immediately and an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion increase, to become available at the president’s request. The agreement puts off any need for future increases to the ceiling until after the November 2012 elections.  At this point, it also does not include any cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, nor does it increase tax revenue.  


Reductions in the federal deficit would be accomplished by imposing a cap on total spending for discretionary programs through 2021. This would produce savings of an estimated $917 billion over 10 years.   For 2012 and 2013, separate caps would be imposed on defense and non-defense programs to prevent shifting funds from one to the other. The caps for 2014 – 2021 would not segregate security and non-defense spending.


 A second round of spending cuts, as much as $1.5 trillion over 10 years, is to be identified by a Special Joint Committee of the Congress.  The House and Senate must vote on the Joint Committee’s recommendations without amendment by November 23.   If the House and/or Senate fail to approve the Committee’s recommendations, across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion will be triggered automatically. Those cuts would be divided equally between defense and non-defense programs.


The bill also requires the Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment no sooner than October 1, 2011 and no later than December 31, 2011.  If one chamber passes a balanced budget amendment the other chamber would be required to consider it.

Status of FY 2012 Appropriation Bills

HOUSE

Appropriations                  Subcommittee                  Full Committee           Floor

Subcommittee                   Markup                            Markup                      Action

Agriculture

DONE

May 24

DONE

May 31

PASSED

June 16

Commerce, Justice and Science

DONE

July 7

DONE

July 13

Defense

 

DONE

June 1

DONE

June 14

PASSED

July 8

Energy & Water

DONE

June 2

DONE

June 15

PASSED

July 15

Financial Services

 

DONE

June 16

DONE

June 23

Homeland Security

DONE

May 13

DONE

May 24

PASSED

 June 2

Interior & Environment

 

DONE

July 7

DONE

July 12

Labor, Health and Human Services

Legislative Branch

DONE

July 7

DONE

July 13

PASSED

July 22

Military Construction/ Veterans Affairs

DONE

May 13

DONE

May 24

PASSED

June 14

State & Foreign Operations

Transportation/Housing and Urban Development

Continuing Resolution Through October 4th

PASSED
September 29

Continuing Resolution

Through November 18th

PASSED

October 4

 

316 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., Suite 404
Washington, DC 20003
T: 202.547.1866    F: 202.547.1867
Copyright © Madison Associates, 2019