CHN: FY18 Appropriators Process Begins
The House Appropriations Committee announced its first markup of an FY18 spending bill – the Military Construction – Veterans Affairs bill – for Monday, June 12. The bill is reported to increase funding in these areas by $6 billion over FY 2017. The military construction portion of the bill is increased 25 percent, or $2.1 billion over the current year. If Congress does not come up with an agreement to prevent the $5 billion in cuts to all discretionary programs now scheduled for FY 2018, the increase in this first bill would require $11 billion in cuts to the rest of appropriated programs.
According to CQ and others, House GOP appropriators are considering moving an FY18 omnibus, or catchall spending package, that would incorporate the 12 spending bills required to keep the government open after the new fiscal year begins on October 1. This would allow for faster passage of the required spending bills, rather than passing them on the House floor one at a time, and would avoid the need for a stopgap spending measure or a government shutdown. There’s talk that a goal for such passage could be set for before the August recess to avoid the time crunch that usually happens in September with the fiscal year deadline looming.
However, passage before the August recess may prove difficult to achieve, as appropriators are still waiting for the topline spending allocations for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees covering the many different departments in the federal government. While these topline dollar figures typically follow the adoption of a budget resolution or budget deal, they can be set without a budget resolution being passed. As noted in the budget article of this Human Needs Report, sequestration cuts scheduled to go back into effect for FY18 would require a $5 billion cut below this year’s appropriations totals. Democrats are pushing for a bipartisan budget deal to lift the spending caps, and unless one is reached, they could filibuster spending bills. To date, there are no reports that such a bipartisan deal is in the works, meaning the appropriations process could stall before it gets very far down the road.