CHN: First Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Bills Pass House and Senate Committees: Obama Administration Issues Veto Threat Over Low House Funding Levels

Both the House and Senate have started moving their 12 annual appropriations bills through the Appropriations Subcommittees and full Committee.  Final agreement between the House and Senate on most of the bills became more difficult when the House decided on a lower appropriations cap than the $1.047 trillion established for FY 2013 in the bipartisan deficit reduction legislation, the Budget Control Act (PL 112-25), enacted last August.  The Senate will adhere to that cap.  The House sets a lower over-all level of $1.028 trillion, the number in its Budget Resolution.  The House allocates $8.1 billion more for Defense than the Senate and $28 billion less in the rest of the bills. The biggest difference in House bills compared with those in the Senate are $7.7 billion, or 5 percent, less in the Labor-HHS-Education bill, and $1.4 billion, or 7 percent, less for Agriculture programs.The hard-fought agreement in August which set tight 10-year discretionary spending caps will bring discretionary spending to its lowest level as a percent of the economy since the 1950s.  The President views the House’s over-all spending level for FY 2013 as breaking the August agreement and adding more cuts to non-defense programs that have already been cut the most.  On April 18 he sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) saying he would not sign into law any appropriations bills until the House agrees to the $1.047 trillion level in the Budget Control Act.  See the letter from the Administration here.

Both the House and Senate have passed the Commerce-Justice-Science and Energy-Water bills in full Committee.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved two additional bills, Agriculture and Transportation-HUD.  Thus far Senate Republicans overwhelmingly support the funding levels adopted by the Senate and are working with Democrats to pass the bills.  In the House, committee decisions are proceeding along party line votes.
See the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee allocations.

Human needs funding in Committee action so far:

Housing Programs  The Senate Committee Transportation-HUD bill increases funding for a number of housing programs above HUD’s budget request and FY 2012 levels and cuts funding for a limited number of programs.  In a move hailed by low-income advocates, the Committee rejected HUD’s proposal to mandate minimum rents of $75 per month in Tenant Based Rental Assistance, Project-Based Rental Assistance, Public Housing, Section 202 Elderly Housing, and Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities.  It did not think HUD had provided sufficient assurance that its minimum rent proposal would not harm the most vulnerable tenants, some who have no income.

The bill provides $17.5 billion for Tenant Based Rental Assistance contact renewals, an increase of $262 million over HUD’s request.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities up to 55,000 vouchers could be lost if Congress adopts HUD’s funding level.  Both the HUD request and Committee bill include $75 million for level funding for vouchers for supportive housing for veterans.  The Committee provides $9.9 billion in funding for Project-Based Rental Assistance, nearly $1.2 billion more that HUD requested.  The lower HUD number reflects their proposal to short-fund the program with less than a full year of funding along with a promise to fund the remainder with money not used in prior year accounts.  The Senate bill provides $4.591 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, $67 million more than HUD requested and $629 million more than in FY 2012.  The Public Housing Operating Fund would receive $1.985 billion, $85 million less than HUD requested and $110 million more than in FY 2012.  Homeless Assistance Grants would be increased to $2.146 billion in FY 2013, an increase of $245 million over FY 2012 but less than HUD’s request for a $330 million increase.  The Senate requests level-funding of $375 million for the Section 202 elderly housing program.  HUD is seeking a $100 increase in the program.  Both HUD and the Senate fund Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities at $150 million, a $15 million cut over FY 2012.  The Senate funds Community Development Block Grants at $3.1 billion, $52 million less than the FY 2012 level and HUD’s request.  Click here to see the National Low Income Housing Coalition budget chart for HUD programs.

Nutrition Programs  The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee bill funds the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) at $7.041 billion, the level requested by the Administration and enough to cover the current and projected caseload.  Included in that amount are $60 million for breastfeeding peer counselors, $14 million for infrastructure, $30 million for management information systems and $16.5 million for WIC farmers’ markets.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which mainly serves low-income seniors, is funded at $187 million, equal to the Administration’s request and $9.2 million more than in FY 2012.  However, the bill did not provide the $5 million needed to expand service to six new USDA-approved states.  The Emergency Assistance Food Program (TEFAP) received $269.5 million in mandatory funding, reflecting the level established by the 2008 Farm Bill plus an adjustment for food price inflation. TEFAP administrative grants, which help charitable food providers store, transport and distribute TEFAP commodities, are funded at the Administration’s request of $49.4 million, a $1.4 million increase over FY 2012. The Seniors’ Farmers’ Markets program which provides low-income seniors coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets is funded at $20.6 million, $3.5 million above FY 2012 and the Administration’s request. The Emerson/Leland Hunger Fellowship Program is level funded at $2 million.

Juvenile Justice Programs  The House and Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Committees produced bills with significant differences in funding for juvenile justice programs.  Title II State Formula Grants, supporting state and local delinquency prevention programs, were funded at $40 million in FY 2012.  They receive $55 million in the Senate bill and $33 million in the House bill, both below the Administration’s $70 million request.  The Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program, with $20 million in FY 2012 dedicated to the prevention of youth crime and violence, would increase to $30 million in the Senate bill, less than the $40 million Administration request, and would be zeroed out in the House bill.  The Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, providing grants to states and localities to improve accountability within the juvenile justice system, is level funded at $30 million in both the Administration’s request and the Senate bill but zeroed out in the House bill.  Juvenile Mentoring supports community, faith-based, nonprofit, and for profit organizations that match at-risk youth with positive adult role models.  It is currently funded at $78 million, with the Senate bill cutting funding to $61 million in FY 2013 and the House increasing funding to $90 million.  The Second Chance Act focuses on providing reentry services for some juvenile and mostly adult ex-offenders.  The House bill level-funds the program at $63 million while the Administration supports increasing funding to $80 million; the Senate bill cuts funding to $25 million.

The House and Senate will begin bringing appropriations bills to the floor in May.  It is almost certain that Congress will not enact all 12 bills before FY 2013 begins on October 1 and will need to adopt a continuing resolution to keep the programs in the unfinished bills operating.

As hard as it will be to come up with final appropriations bills with the House having chosen a lower spending total than the Senate, that is not the end of the difficulties.  Unless Congress comes up with an alternative for producing an additional $1.2 trillion over ten years in deficit reduction before January 1, 2013, automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts also enacted in the Budget Control Act in August will require $38.5 billion more in cuts to non-defense discretionary programs in FY 2013.

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