FY 2012 Appropriations Update: The House Is in Motion

Attempting not to replicate last year's/this year's FY 2011 appropriations debacle, the House is moving the FY 2012 process in a relatively timely manner. After passing the budget resolution on April 15, the various subcommittees and the full Appropriations Committee are busy trying to adhere to Chairman Hal Rogers's (R-KY) schedule for mark-ups. The Appropriations Committee met today to officially approve of the 302(b) allocations for each subcommittee, based on the $1.019 trillion cap contained in the budget resolution, which is $30 billion below the negotiated FY 2011 levels for new budget authority. A "deeming resolution" is expected on the floor of the House next week to lock in the $1.019 trillion marker since Senate adoption of the budget resolution is not likely.

The full House Appropriations Committee today also marked up the first FY 2012 spending bills -- Homeland Security and Military Construction-VA. An amendment was added to the Homeland Security bill adding $1 billion in disaster funding to ensure that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accounts don't run dry. In addition, the Agriculture bill was marked up in its respective subcommittee today. Full committee action on the Ag bill will probably come next week, assuming that they adhere to Chairman Rogers's schedule. And the Homeland Security and MilCon-VA bills likely will see action on the House floor next week.

All of the 302(b) allocations are presented below.

House 302(b) Allocations (billions)
Subcommittee FY 2011 Actual FY 2012 Proposed Change Percentage Change
Agriculture $19.9 $17.3 -$2.7 -13%
Commerce-Justice-Science $53.3 $50.2 -$3.1 -6%
Defense $513.0 $530.0 +$17.0 +3%
Energy and Water $31.7 $30.6 -$1.0 -3%
Financial Services $22.0 $19.9 -$2.1 -9%
Homeland Security $41.7 $40.6 -$1.1 -3%
Interior-Environment $29.6 $27.5 -$2.1 -7%
Labor-HHS-Education $157.4 $139.2 -$18.2 -12%
Legislative Branch $4.5 $4.3 -$0.2 -5%
Military Construction-VA $73.2 $72.5 -$0.6 -1%
State-Foreign Operations $48.2 $39.6 -$8.6 -18%
Transportation-Housing $55.4 $47.7 -$7.7 -14%
Total $1,049.8 $1,019.4 -$30.4 -3%

Source: House Appropriations Committee

The Defense Authorization Act is also on the horizon, with debate on the bill expected to start this week in the full House. The bill would set the Pentagon's base budget at $553 billion ($29 billion more than last year) but the total including funding for the wars would be $690 billion ($15 billion less than last year, due to a $40 billion decrease in funding for the wars). The CBO estimates that certain provisions of the bill include "implicit authorizations" that would put the total price tag over $700 billion though 2016 if they are appropriated.

Meanwhile, the Senate by no means intends to keep pace with the House. No budget resolution is currently in the works in the Senate, as they are waiting to see if there is a successful bipartisan budget deal that the resolution could serve as a legislative vehicle for. Symbolic votes are expected next month on budgets that have no chance of passing, specifically on the President's original budget and the House-passed budget. Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) budget and Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) budget may also get a vote -- under a Senate rule allowing any senator to bring a budget to the floor if there is no budget resolution by April 1.

Regardless of the tempo being set by the House, the FY 2012 process likely will not go smoothly or swiftly. The Democratic-controlled Senate will not easily go along with anything passed by the Republican-controlled House. So, just as the current fiscal year process demonstrated that our budget process is badly in need of reform, the FY 2012 proceedings will likely only confirm that view. We have some great suggestions on how to fix the process in our Peterson-Pew Commission report Getting Back in the Black

And we'll continue to keep our eye on the current appropriations process.