CHN: House Passes 10 of 12 FY20 Spending Bills, but Still No Deal on Spending Levels

The House of Representatives fell slightly short of its goal of passing all 12 required FY20 spending bills before the end of June. On June 19, the House passed  a “minibus” package (H.R. 2740) consisting of the FY20 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill; the Defense bill; the Energy and Water bill; and the State and Foreign Operations bill (226-203; seven Democrats and all Republicans voted no). The National Education Association said the package “includes several billion dollars in crucial increases for early childhood, K-12, and higher education initiatives.”

On June 25, the House passed a second FY20 minibus package (H.R. 3055) consisting of the Agriculture spending bill; the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development bill; the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill; the Interior-Environment bill; and the Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs bill (227-194; one Democrat joined all Republicans in opposition). The National Low Income Housing Coalition said the package, “includes robust funding for affordable housing and community development investments at HUD and USDA, as well as several positive amendments.” The second minibus also included back pay for an estimated 580,000 federal contractors who were furloughed or had to work without pay during the partial government shutdown that ended in January, as well as funds for gun violence research and language blocking the Trump Administration from repurposing military construction funds to build a wall on the southern border. The package also includes language blocking the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census (for more information on this, see the related article in this Human Needs Report).

Before last week ended, the House on June 26 also passed the FY20 Financial Services spending bill (H.R. 3351), which funds the Treasury Department, IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission, White House, and other government agencies (224-196; five Democrats joined all Republicans in voting no). The measure included language blocking the Trump Administration from using Treasury Department funds to build a wall on the southern border.

The Trump Administration issued Statements of Administration Policy saying it would recommend vetoes if either of the minibuses or the Financial Services bill reach his desk. The House left two FY20 spending bills unfinished, however — the Homeland Security bill and the Legislative Branch bill.

Formal action on FY20 spending bills has not yet begun in the Senate. A new bipartisan deal to raise tight spending caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act still needs to be reached between the House and Senate and signed by President Trump if Congress is to avoid the deep cuts required by the 2011 law. Last week, more than 250 national organizations joined CHN in urging Congress to lift budget caps and set domestic and international spending for FY 2020 at levels no less than the House totals.  The House agreed on a FY 2020 cap for appropriations of $631 billion for programs other than defense, and placed additional funds for programs including the 2020 Census outside the budget cap. If current budget law is not changed, domestic programs will face cuts of about 10 percent in the fiscal year that begins October 1.  Because certain program areas must increase, such as the constitutionally required 2020 Census and previously enacted increases in veterans’ health services, other programs will lose even more.

Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) said again on June 27 that if a spending caps agreement is not reached by the time Congress returns from its July 4 recess, he will push for his committee to set its own spending limits so it can begin work on the Senate’s version of spending bills. He had previously said his committee would write spending bills to the lower numbers required by existing law, with the expectation that they could add funds if there was an agreement to lift the caps. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) responded later that day saying he did not want the Senate to set its own spending limits or to proceed with work on spending bills until a spending caps deal was reached with the House and the Trump Administration.

For more information, see the June 17 Human Needs Report.

Budget and Appropriations