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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR APRIL 23, 2012:

Budget and Appropriations Update


FY 2013 Budget Process

House Budget Resolution

On March 29th, the House passed its version of the FY 2013 Budget Resolution (H Con Res 112) by a vote of 228-191.  The Ryan Budget (named for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan) sets spending levels at $1.028 trillion which is $19 billion below the agreed to $1.047 trillion spending levels for FY 2013 included in the  Budget Control Act of 2011 passed and signed into law last August.  The Senate plans to stick to the agreed to spending level of $1.047 trillion for its FY 2013 Budget Request.

On April 17th, the House approved H. Res. 615 which “deemed” the Ryan budget as being passed by the House and Senate.  House rules require some budgets to be approved before House committees are permitted to work on appropriations bills for the next Fiscal Year.  Deeming the House budget passed allows the House to enforce its budget levels at it proceeds with 2013 appropriations process.  H. Res. 615 was a rule for a bill easing rules on the use of firearms on federal land (H.R. 4089).

Also included in the House Budget Resolution was an initiation of the “reconciliation” process.  Reconciliation will give certain House committees the ability to propose changes in current mandatory spending programs in order to generate a specified amount in savings.  These savings would be used to offset the sequestration, or mandatory across the board cuts in discretionary spending, scheduled to occur on January 2, 2013 as mandated by the Budget Control Act.  The savings will be found in five areas:

1.       Stop fraud, ensuring that individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive;

2.       Eliminate government slush funds and stop bailouts;

3.       Control runaway, unchecked spending;

4.       Restrain spending on government bureaucracies; and

5.       Reduce waste and duplicative programs.

Six House Committees (Agriculture/Financial Services/Judiciary/Ways & Means/Energy & Commerce/ Oversight & Government Reform) have begun the reconciliation process with some committees currently marking up their bills.  Those bills are expected on the House floor for votes beginning in May.

 

Senate Budget Resolution

On April 18, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad held a markup of the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission Budget Plan.  Chairman Conrad explained that with passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) congress had already passed a budget resolution for FY 2012 and FY 2013.  The language in the bill states the Budget Control Act “shall apply in the Senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget” for FY 2012 and FY 2013.  By taking up the Fiscal Commission Budget Plan, Chairman Conrad is hoping to enact the majority of tax reforms, discretionary spending reforms and entitlement reforms included in the plan over the next 10 years.

FY 2013 Appropriations

With the House sticking to a budget level of $1.028 trillion and the Senate planning on using a budget level of $1.047 trillion, a Continuing Resolution is all but certain to keep the government funded past October 1, the beginning of the 2013 Fiscal Year.  Despite the difference in totals both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun moving forward with their FY 2013 spending bills. 

On April 17th the Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee marked up its version of the Commerce, Justice and Science bill totaling $51.9 billion.  Funding highlights in the Senate version include:

·         National Science Foundation – $7.3 billion, an increase of $240 million above the Fiscal Year 2012 enacted level.

·         National Institute of Standards and Technology – $826 million, which is $75 million above the Fiscal Year 2012 enacted level. The

·         The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – $19.4 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion over the Fiscal Year 2012 enacted level

On April 18th, the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY 2013 spending bill.  The bill limits discretionary spending to $51.1 billion or $731 million below the President’s request.  Funding highlights include:

·         National Institute of Standards and Technology  – $830 million in the bill, which is $79 million above Fiscal Year 2012 and $27 million below the President’s request

·         National Aeronautics and Space Administration – $17.6 billion in the bill, which is $226 million below Fiscal Year 2012 and $138 million below the President’s

·         National Science Foundation – $7.3 billion which is $41 million below the President’s request.

Also on April 18th, the House Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee marked up its FY 2013 bill.  The bill totals $32.1 billion, $965 million below the request and $88 million above FY 2012.  Highlights include:

·         Department of Energy – $26.3 billion or $1.8 billion below the President’s request.

·         Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – $1.38 billion, $428 million below Fiscal Year 2012

·         Office of Science – $4.82 billion, $64 million less than FY 2012.

·         Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy – $200 million or $75 million below FY 2012 levels.

  

President Obama’s Appropriations Veto Treat

On April 18, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffery D. Zients, issued a veto warning on behalf of President Obama to House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers.  The House Appropriations Committee is planning to use spending allocations included in the House passed Budget Resolution that includes an additional $28 billion in new spending cuts. Director Zients states that within the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) there is a framework already in place to reduce the deficit by $2 trillion and the BCA included “tight spending caps that will bring discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the Eisenhower Administration”.  Director Zients believes using the House Budget Resolution will result in one of two outcomes: 1) every appropriations bill will provide inadequate funding; or 2) some bills will provide adequate funding and other bills will see even more reductions.  “Until the House of Representatives indicates that it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the President will not be able to sign any appropriations bills”.

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