CHN: Subcommittees Hearings Begin on FY2016 Budget

The House and Senate will be developing budgets for FY 2016 this month. To prepare for this, many House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee held hearings in February to begin discussing budget needs, restraints, and priorities. According to CQ, Republican appropriators in both the House and Senate are vowing to cut back on the spending increases included in President Obama’s proposed FY 2016 budget released in February and stick to sequester caps in place for the coming fiscal year, despite the fact that many agency leaders say they need additional funding. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, told Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the Administration’s above-sequester budget request was “fantasy.”  The one exception being talked about is for the Department of Defense, which could see an increase in funding.
The President’s budget ends sequestration, the imposition of deep cuts, primarily to appropriations, required by the Budget Control Act if Congress does not agree to other means of reducing the deficit. The President complies with the Budget Control Act by proposing other means: a combination of increased revenues and reduced spending. By ending sequestration, the President’s FY 2016 budget could begin to reverse some of the cuts of the past five years, notably in housing, education and training, and public health. For more information, on the President’s FY 2016 budget request, see CHN’s Feb. 9 Human Needs Report. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that another year of sequestration would leave domestic and international appropriations 17 percent below their FY 2010 levels, taking inflation into account.

Investments in critical human needs programs will not be possible if the deep cuts required by sequestration are allowed to continue. In addition, some key Congressional leaders have been calling for more tax breaks for corporations and the rich and more funding for the Pentagon, paid for with additional cuts to necessary anti-poverty programs. There is talk that Republicans in the House and Senate will include a process in the budget resolution known as reconciliation to cut and make changes to mandatory spending programs (those programs not subjected to the annual appropriations process, like Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP/food stamps) and to enact tax cuts. Advocates have been rallying around a sign-on letter for organizations and a petition for individuals circulated by CHN telling Congress to deliver a federal budget that invests in the jobs, health, education, housing, roads, and child care that build prosperity for all and prevent poverty by closing tax loopholes that now shift trillions to the wealthy and corporations and by stopping Pentagon waste.

Congressional budget leaders have a goal for the House and Senate budget resolutions to be ready for Budget Committee debate and votes in mid-March, with full House and Senate adoption by the end of March. CHN will have continuing coverage of the House and Senate FY 2016 budget proposals when they are released later this month. Stay tuned to the Human Needs Report and CHN’s blog, Voices for Human Needs, for updates.

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