CHN: FY24 Appropriations Bills Begin to Move through House and Senate Committees; Highlights/Lowlights from Select Bills
Fiscal Year 2024 spending bills have begun moving through House and Senate Appropriations Committees, but they are not without controversy. Read on for more information on spending allocations and highlights and lowlights from select bills on the move.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act set the total for appropriations, divided into defense and nondefense categories. The next step was for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to divvy up those totals among 12 Appropriations Subcommittees. Despite the spending levels that were agreed upon in the debt ceiling and budget deal (see related article), the House Appropriations Committee adopted along party lines allocations (known as 302(b) allocations) for the 12 subcommittees that are far below these levels, representing roughly $119 billion in cuts to nondefense discretionary programs. House Republican appropriators have also passed along party lines several FY24 bills that adhere to these lower levels. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Committee’s top Democrat, called the House allocations “a complete affront—an abrogation” of the debt ceiling deal.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) has said that these bills – which limit new spending to the Fiscal Year 2022 topline level – will be supplemented by rescinding, or “clawing back,” $115 billion in funding from previously enacted legislation. But how that $115 billion will be distributed among the subcommittees has not been made known, nor is it known where specifically the $115 billion in rescissions will come from. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, even with the $115 billion in redirected funding, the overall funding the House is expected to provide for nondefense annually-appropriated (“discretionary”) programs appears to be substantially less than the 2023 level.
In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted subcommittee allocations that adhere to the topline funding levels in the debt ceiling deal, totaling $1.59 trillion in spending (without accounting for adjustments or other accounting maneuvers that are typically a part of the appropriations process). While the allocations were adopted along party lines, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME) issued a joint statement vowing to “continue working together in a bipartisan manner to craft serious funding bills that can be signed into law.” Passing appropriations bills in the Senate requires 60 votes, meaning bills that pass the Senate must have bipartisan support.
The very different topline spending numbers being used in the House and Senate foreshadow a difficult path ahead to reaching an agreement on final FY24 spending bills. Congress has until October 1 – the start of the new fiscal year – to either enact new spending bills, pass a stopgap spending bill (known as a Continuing Resolution, or CR) to maintain federal funding, or face a government shutdown. At this point, it seems likely that a CR will be needed to avoid a shutdown. Under the debt ceiling and budget agreement, discretionary spending will automatically be cut by 1 percent if Congress does not pass all 12 required appropriations bills for FY 2024 by Jan. 1, 2024 – with those cuts scheduled to take effect by next April. This will create a strong incentive among those who support the 3 percent increase allocated for defense spending to make sure all 12 bills pass, rather than just resorting to the extended flat funding of a CR.
|Senate vs. House
*Commodity Futures Trading Commission funded in House Agriculture bill, Senate Financial Services bill.
Neither House nor Senate figures include cap adjustments, emergency spending, or other “side-deal” add-ons.
Sources: House and Senate Appropriations Committees and CQ/Roll Call.
Department of Agriculture spending bill:
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed very different versions of a bill to fund the USDA and related agencies. The House Agriculture spending bill slashed spending by $8 billion, or 30 percent below FY23 levels, to a level not seen since 2007. According to the National WIC Association, the House bill funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at a level $185 million below fiscal year 2023 levels and cuts fresh fruit and vegetable benefits for more than 5 million WIC participants. If passed, the cut to WIC benefits would result in a 56 percent decrease in the monthly fruit and vegetable benefit provided by WIC for children and a 70 percent decrease for adults. In addition, recent increases in WIC participants mean that the House funding will not be enough to support the projected number of participants and will require waitlists. The President’s budget requested $800 million for WIC, an increase of $615 million over FY23 levels, to meet the program’s expanding caseload and to maintain the fruit and vegetable allotments. Summaries of the House Agriculture appropriations bill are available from House Republicans and Democrats.
In contrast, the Senate Agriculture appropriations bill, which passed the full committee with unanimous support, provides funding that is 2 percent higher than the FY23 level. The National WIC Association said the bill fully funds WIC based on levels proposed initially in President Biden’s 2024 budget and funding levels agreed to as a result of the debt ceiling deal reached earlier this month. More recent increased projections suggest that the final funding level will need to exceed the Senate proposal to cover all expected participants. The Senate bill also fully funds SNAP – with no new restrictions on eligibility – and Child Nutrition Programs. A summary of the bill is here.
Financial Services and General Government spending bill:
House Republicans also passed in subcommittee their Financial Services and General Government spending bill with provisions many advocates say are harmful. The bill funds the Treasury Department, Judiciary, Small Business Administration, financial regulators and more.
According to CQ, the Internal Revenue Service would receive $11.2 billion in FY24 in the bill, a 9 percent or more than $1 billion cut from the current year. This could undermine the IRS’ capacity to collect taxes already owed from those with high incomes, along with increasing the challenges taxpayers face in paying taxes. In line with a “side deal” under the terms of the debt limit agreement enacted this month, the bill also would rescind $10.2 billion in FY24 in additional mandatory enforcement and operations support funding for the agency included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill also proposes funding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through the annual appropriations process rather than through the Federal Reserve. Additionally, it would change CFPB’s leadership structure from a director to a five-member commission. These proposals to gut the effectiveness and independence of the CFPB have long been opposed by CHN and other advocates.
According to the Clean Budget Coalition, the bill is also packed with roughly 50 policy changes, known as poison pill riders, including the following:
- The IRS Free Filing Prohibition Rider would prohibit the IRS from developing free tax filing software that would allow any taxpayer to file their taxes for free. without prior approval from key financial committees in both chambers of Congress. Advocates have been urging the IRS to employ a free and simple direct e-file option.
- The Diversity Executive Orders Rider would block implementation of all executive orders related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- The Same-Sex Marriage Rider would prohibit retribution against any individual with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman – language that fuels discrimination. The language in this rider would require the government to continue to fund contractors, nonprofits, and other organizations that discriminate against LGBTQI+ people if they claim the reason for their discrimination is because of their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
- The Anti-Voting Rider would block implementation of the Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting with certain exceptions, making it harder for people to vote.
- The Anti-Greening Rider would stop implementation of Section 205 of Executive Order 14008, which calls for federal agencies to achieve net-zero emissions across their portfolio of buildings, campuses, and installations by 2045 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2032 by prioritizing improvement of energy efficiency and eliminating onsite fossil fuel use.
Department of Defense spending bills and possible supplemental spending bills:
Regarding the spending bill covering the Department of Defense, House Republicans have proposed $826 billion for FY 2024, while Senate Democrats have proposed $823 billion, in line with the spending caps McCarthy negotiated with Biden. It should be noted that total defense-related spending in both House and Senate is higher than the amount for the Department of Defense, because some defense programs are found in subcommittee bills for Energy/Water, Homeland Security, and Military Construction/VA, among others. According to The Hill, Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are hoping to increase defense spending levels beyond the cap, possibly by passing a supplemental defense spending bill that includes money for Ukraine. However, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has said he opposes this idea.
Several Senators have also begun pushing for supplemental funding for disaster relief in anticipation of hurricane season. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund is set to run out of money in August, when Congress is scheduled to be in recess. While $20 billion would likely be included as an “anomaly” (or adjustment to funding levels) attached to stopgap funding legislation needed by Sept. 30 to keep the government running, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced legislation to provide $11.5 billion in supplemental funding to replenish the fund before it runs out. There is speculation, however, that such a supplemental bill could become a magnet for other Members of Congress looking to circumvent the recently enacted spending caps.
Both the House and Senate are in recess until the week of July 10, but additional spending bills are expected to continue to move through the Appropriations Committees upon their return.