The Government Funding Bill: Winners and Losers

The field has been narrowed from 68 to 64 teams, and the NCAA Tournament is ready to kick off in full this afternoon. But the Big Dance isn't the only March madness going on right now. In Congress, both chambers are set to take a number of budget-related votes in the hours and days ahead.

One of those issues, though, just got resolved today. Both the House and Senate passed separate government funding bills, the House acting two weeks ago and the Senate approving a bill just yesterday by a 73-26 vote. The House this morning approved the Senate bill 318-109, so it will be sent to the president for signing.

The bill is a hybrid in that it has both appropriations bills and a CR. The bill gives full appropriations bills to Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Military Construction-Veterans' Affairs, and Homeland Security. Appropriations bills generally allow for more flexibility in the use of funds and provide a greater ability for Congress to shift around funds from the previous CR, rather than just having them stick with the current allocation.

Below, you can see the differences in funding between the new funding bill and the previous CR below. We have also included the old House-passed bill in the table for comparison. Note that none of these totals account for the sequester, which will cut on average about 8 percent from defense budget authority and 5 percent from non-defense budget authority (totals for individual bills may vary due to exemptions). It will reduce base discretionary budget authority from $1.043 trillion to $984 billion.

Base Funding by Appropriations Bill (Billions of Budget Authority)
Bill House Senate Previous CR
Agriculture $20.2 $20.5 $20.3
Commerce-Justice-Science $50.4 $50.2 $50.4
Defense $517.6 $517.6 $519.9
Energy and Water $36.8 $36.7 $33.0
Financial Services $21.2 $21.5 $21.4
Homeland Security $39.7 $39.6 $40.1
Interior $30.6 $29.8 $30.2
Labor-HHS-Education $156.7 $156.9 $157.5
Legislative Branch $4.3 $4.3 $4.3
Military Construction-VA $71.9 $71.9 $75.7
State-Foreign Ops $42.1 $42.1 $42.3
Transportation-HUD $51.4 $51.8 $51.8
Total $1,043 $1,043 $1,047

Source: CBO

At the micro level, the bill shifted funds around to protect certain spending programs. According to Congressional Quarterly's Budget Tracker (subscription required) and The New York Times's Jonathan Weisman and Annie Lowrey:

  • $55 million of cuts were restored to meat inspectors (at the expense of other agriculture programs, including a school breakfast program)
  • $10.4 billion in defense spending was shifted towards operations and maintenance accounts
  • Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement saw funding increases
  • Embassy security saw a large increase in funding
  • Head Start and Child Care block grants were increased
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children saw a $250 million funding increase
  • The Energy Department's nuclear weapons program will see a funding increase
  • Military construction would take a significant hit of $2.4 billion
  • Energy research would take a $44 million cut
  • The Secret Service would see its funding cut by 3 percent
  • The Transportation Security Administration would take a cut while the Coast Guard and FEMA would get increases

The budget for FY 2013 is now settled. But there is still the FY 2014 budget to be determined by October 1, not to mention the possibility that the budget resolutions will lead to broader budget negotiations. There is also the debt ceiling looming in the summer. In short, although they have solved this part of the madness and unlike the NCAA Tournament, this year's budget battles will go far past early April.