Senate Appropriations Supplemental Could Add $155 Billion to the Debt

Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) announced yesterday that they would introduce add supplemental "emergency" appropriations to boost ordinary appropriations levels by $13.7 billion above the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) caps, designating the funding as emergency spending to avoid violating the caps.

This abuse of the emergency designation violates the spirit of the law, and we estimate it would result in an additional $155 billion of borrowing if continued into the future under Congressional Budget Office (CBO) conventions. That includes $13.7 billion of direct costs, a roughly $123 billion boost to the baseline, and $19 billion of debt service.

Said another way, this action alone would reverse one-tenth of the $1.5 trillion of savings from the FRA. In combination with side deals announced at the time of FRA’s passage, it would put lawmakers on course to reverse 44 percent of the FRA’s saving.

With the debt still headed toward record levels, policymakers should be building upon the FRA, not tearing it down.

Update (9/21/2023): This piece has been updated to clarify that the supplemental appropriations are not in a separate bill.