Updated April 24, 2012 – 11:41 p.m.
Allocations Set Up Spending Battle
By Paul M. Krawzak and Kerry Young, CQ Staff
House and Senate appropriators are setting out in strikingly different directions on spending bills for the coming fiscal year, with the House allocating more to the Pentagon and less to the State Department and labor, health and education programs than the Senate.
House Appropriations Chairman
The Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the allocations, known as 302(b)s, on a party-line vote Wednesday, sending them to subcommittees for markups on program details and toward conflict with the Senate. Senate appropriators adopted their allocations last week in bipartisan votes that were aligned with the $1.047 trillion level set in the debt limit agreement last year between Congress and the White House.
Beneath the larger numbers are detailed differences over federal spending priorities that are setting out political fault lines during the election year, and may only be resolved this year after the fall elections.
Rogers says the House committee’s allocations are evidence of “how seriously this House takes its charge to rein in extraneous and unnecessary spending, encourage economic competitiveness and job growth, help strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, and ensure a strong national security for the protection of all Americans.”
Rogers also sought to send signals of cooperation amid a budgeting and allocating process that has been marked by sharp partisan divisions in the House. “We are committed to working together across the aisle and across both chambers to ensure continued funding for important government programs, projects and services that the American people expect and deserve,” Rogers said in a written statement.
President Obama has threatened to veto any spending bills that fall below the limits in the debt limit law (PL 112-25). Senate Republican Leader
It has been clear since the House adopted a budget resolution last month that GOP appropriators would mark up spending bills to a total discretionary limit of $1.028 trillion, $19 billion less than the Senate limit of $1.047 trillion. The Senate is using the discretionary cap contained in the August debt limit law (PL 112-25), which specified annual discretionary limits through fiscal 2021 that were agreed to by Democratic and Republican negotiators.
The larger figure that the Senate is using would keep federal discretionary spending almost flat, compared with the $1.043 trillion allotted in the current fiscal year.
It was not known until Tuesday how Rogers planned to divvy up the funds among the 12 appropriations subcommittees.
Allocations Set Up Spending Battle
Under Rogers’ plan, the Pentagon would get $519.2 billion in 2013, $8 billion more than the Senate has allotted and about $1 billion more than Congress is spending in fiscal 2012. The figure does not include $88.5 billion in overseas contingencies, money associated with the war in Afghanistan. The State and Foreign Operations bill would receive $40.1 billion under the House plan, almost $10 billion below the Senate figure.
Under the House allocations, the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill would get $150 billion, almost $8 billion below the Senate figure.
The differing subcommittee allocations for these three measures will make it harder for the two chambers to agree on fiscal 2013 spending bills.
The House allocations for the other nine bills are also less than the Senate allocations, but the differences in most cases amount to only $1 billion to $2 billion.
Compared with what Congress is spending this year, most of the allocations for 2013 are lower. The Defense bill alone gets a substantial increase. Under the House plan, the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bills would receive roughly level funding. The other bills would see decreases.
Rogers’ spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said Rogers determined that Defense needed a bump in funding “based on testimony and oversight that they’ve done and how much money that they felt they needed and was appropriate for those programs.”
Although the House Appropriations Committee allocations disclosed on Tuesday do not name the specific programs facing cuts, other House authorizing committees have approved proposed cuts in domestic programs, including reductions in spending on food assistance and health care programs.
House appropriators would set Transportation and HUD programs at $51.6 billion, $1.8 billion below the Senate figure. Agriculture programs would get $19.4 billion, which is $1.4 billion below the Senate allocation.
First posted April 24, 2012 12:50 p.m.