CHN: Both House and Senate Close to President’s Levels for Human Needs Appropriations

Handful of Appropriations Bills Pass in the House Before July Recess
Both the House and Senate have provided close to the President’s recommended funding levels for domestic appropriations for next year.  Although the President’s budget provides $8.9 billion more than the House for all appropriations, and about $7 billion more than the Senate, most of that difference is in military or international spending; the differences in FY 2010 domestic spending are relatively small.  (See table.)

The Administration, House and Senate are all between 10-11 percent higher than FY 2009 for domestic spending, not counting temporary economic recovery funds.  With the Consumer Price Index only expected to rise by 1.3 percent in 2010, most of that increase would be available to purchase more services, badly needed to respond to the recession’s hardships.  This is a very different picture from last year, when the Bush Administration proposed cuts in many domestic programs.

How the House and Senate will choose to allocate funds among domestic programs is mostly not yet known.  Certain juvenile justice, adult offender and domestic violence programs were funded as part of the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill passed by the House earlier in June (see Human Needs Report, June 16).  The full House Appropriations Committee approved its Agriculture Appropriations bill, but it has not yet reached the House floor.  The Committee bill recommends a 10 percent increase in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition funding, and $180 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides emergency meals primarily to poor elderly people, a $20 million increase over FY 2009.  Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education have not yet been considered by the Committee; nor has it taken up funding for  Housing and Urban Development and Transportation.

Although these major human needs appropriations bills are not close to passage, the House did pass three other bills in addition to Commerce-Justice-Science just before leaving for the July 4 recess:  Homeland Security, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Administration.  The Senate has not yet passed any appropriations bills, but is expected to pass its versions of Legislative Branch and Homeland Security soon after the recess.

The atmosphere was contentious as the House moved the bills through floor debate.  Ordinarily, all House Members are allowed to bring amendments to the floor, but failure to reach agreement with the Republican minority on some limits to the number of amendments caused the House leadership to restrict floor debate.  Outraged, Republican Members slowed down the process with many procedural votes.

Nonetheless, the House is expected to pass all 12 separate appropriations bills this year.  Achieving that goal is less certain in the Senate, which may be forced to combine bills in order to finish appropriations work before the new fiscal year starts on October 1.

Budget and Appropriations
Policy Analyses and Research