Appropriations Watch: FY 2019
Here is a link to the Appropriations Watch for FY 2020.
Congress passed full appropriations for the remaining seven appropriations bills for the rest of fiscal year 2019, and the president signed the omnibus prior to the expiration of the existing continuing resolution (CR) at midnight on February 15. On January 25, a three-week continuing resolution was enacted to reopen the government after a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in American history. The other five appropriations bills had been previously enacted through two minibus spending packages before the start of FY 2019.
Appropriations will be one of several deadlines Congress will face over the coming months. See a list of the upcoming fiscal deadlines here.
Congress began appropriations work for FY 2019 in April. The enactment of the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act increased defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps and has effectively allowed appropriators to begin to draft spending bills without a formal budget resolution. As we did last year, we'll be tracking the bills as they move from committee to the House and Senate floor, and onto the President's desk.
The table below shows the status of each appropriations bill. To learn more about the appropriations process, read our report Appropriations 101.
Sources: House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, CQ, Congress.gov. All dates are in 2018 unless noted otherwise. Minibus numbers based on the order they appear likely to be signed into law, not their original introduction.
As we explained in Appropriations 101, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approve 302(b) spending levels for each subcommittee after the topline 302(a) levels are determined by the Budget Committees. Below is an excerpt (click here to read the full report).
How does Congress determine the total level of appropriations?
Under current law, after the President submits the Administration’s budget proposal to Congress, the House and Senate Budget Committees are each directed to report a budget resolution which, if passed by their respective houses, would then be reconciled in a budget conference (see Q&A: Everything You Need to Know About a Budget Conference).
The resulting budget resolution, which is a concurrent resolution and therefore not signed by the President, includes what is known as a 302(a) allocation that sets a total amount of money for the Appropriations Committees to spend. For example, the conferenced budget between the House and Senate set the 302(a) limit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 at $1.017 trillion.
In the absence of a budget resolution, each chamber may enact a deeming resolution that sets the 302(a) allocation for that chamber. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 gave the Chairmen of the Budget Committees authority to set the 302(a) allocation for the Appropriations Committees for FY 2018 and FY 2019 at the statutory discretionary spending caps that the law established.
Since 2011, discretionary spending has been subject to statutory spending caps. The Budget Control Act of 2011 set discretionary caps through 2021, which have been modified since 2013 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Beyond 2019, the statutory caps set by the Budget Control Act will be reduced by about $90 billion annually through an enforcement mechanism known as “sequestration” (see Understanding the Sequester) implemented after the failure of the 2011 Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to produce legislation to reduce the deficit.
How does Congress allocate appropriations?
Once they receive 302(a) allocations, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees set 302(b) allocations to divide total appropriations among the 12 subcommittees dealing with different parts of the budget. Those subcommittees must then decide how to distribute funds within their 302(b) allocations. These 302(b) allocations are voted on by the respective Appropriations Committees but are not subject to review or vote by the full House or Senate. The table below lists the FY 2018 regular (non-war, non-disaster) appropriations, along with the House and Senate FY 2019 spending put forward by the Appropriations Committees.
The table below compares actual funding for FY 2018 with the FY 2019 302(b) allocations from the House and Senate.
|Budget Authority Allocations to Appropriations Subcommittees (billions)|
|Subcommittee||FY 18 Enacted Level||House FY 19||Senate FY 19||Final FY 19 Level|
|Commerce, Justice, Science||$59.6||$65.5||$63.0||$64.1|
|Energy and Water Development||$43.2||$44.7||$43.8||$44.6|
|Financial Services and General Government||$23.4||$23.4||$23.7||$23.4|
|Labor, HHS, Education||$177.1||$177.1||$181.2||$178.1|
|Military Construction, VA*||$92.0||$98.1||$98.0||$97.1|
|State, Foreign Operations*||$42.0||$46.0||$46.4||$46.2|
|Total||$1.208 trillion||$1.313 trillion||$1.315 trillion||$1.244 trillion|
*In addition to base discretionary appropriations, final FY 2019 spending measures also included a total of $77 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations spending, $67.9 billion of which is designated for the Department of Defense, $8 billion of which is designated for the State Department, $921 million of which is designated for military construction, and $165 million of which is designated for the Department of Homeland Security. Including OCO funds, disaster relief, emergency requirements, and program integrity, FY 2019 spending measures provide $1.337 trillion in budget authority and $1.347 trillion in outlays.