The House Appropriations Committee, headed by Hal Rogers (R–KY), has completed three drafts of the 12 annual spending bills and expects to bring two of them to the floor for consideration this week. Congress has not passed all 12 appropriations bills on time since 1997.
The House will first consider the bill that allocates money for military construction and veterans’ affairs, followed by the bill that funds the legislative branch (which pays the salaries of Representatives and their staff). The committee also released a draft of the commerce, justice, and science bill earlier today.
The current House requests for the bills would reduce funding compared to the fiscal year 2014 levels, leaving more remaining of the total $1.014 trillion topline for other spending. This topline limit on discretionary spending was set in the Ryan–Murray deal, which increased total discretionary spending by $18 billion for 2015 after repealing budget cuts in sequestration. The legislative branch would see its funding reduced to $3.3 billion from $4.3 billion, while military construction/veterans’ affairs would see a dip to $71.5 billion from $73.3 billion in 2014. Commerce/justice/science would see funding drop to $51.2 billion, down only $400 million from 2014 levels.
Congressmen of both parties will have the opportunity to attach policy riders (specific policy language to the funding bill), which could slow the process. Furthermore, even if the House passes each bill, they would have to go to the Senate (and then the President), where they would face further scrutiny.
Indeed, passing a comprehensive funding package is no easy feat, but the early start and possibility for cooperation make this year an optimistic one for lawmakers who were hoping to return to a “normal order” of budgetary policy.
To follow the progress of how Congress plans to spend your tax dollars, check back with Heritage soon, as we will be posting and updating an Appropriations Tracker that will clearly display the request for each bill in the House and Senate and the bill’s status on its route to passage.