CHN: House and Senate Set FY 2011 Spending Targets Lower Than President’s; Spending Tight, but Some Growth in House Labor-HHS Appropriations

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee have approved spending caps for their dozen spending bills.  The Senate committee set its FY 2011 appropriations total $14 billion less than the President’s, but $24 billion more than FY 2010.  The House committee’s total is $7.3 billion less than the President’s request, and $31 billion more than this year’s spending.
Both the House and Senate committees would spend less in FY 2011 than this year in appropriations for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Military Construction-Veterans’ Affairs.  The House also allocated slightly less for Transportation-HUD than this year; the Senate level-funded Transportation-HUD appropriations.

In the House, military, homeland security, and international expenditures would be increased about $22 billion over this year; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education rise by $12.7 billion (close to 8 percent over FY 2010 levels).  The programs within Commerce-Justice-Science are reduced almost 6 percent in the House and by 6.5 percent in the Senate; most other appropriations bills stay fairly close to FY 2010 levels.

Labor-HHS-ED:  In the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, although the increases were not as high as the President had proposed, there was growth in funding for child care and Head Start.  The Child Care and Development Block Grant would rise from $2.1 billion this year to $2.8 billion.  Head Start would grow by $866 million, to $8.1 billion.  The President proposed another $100 million beyond the House level for child care, and another $124 million more for Head Start.  Still, in a climate of increasing focus on deficit reduction, advocates were gratified to see these significant increases.

The House has not agreed to the President’s proposal to move some of the funding for home energy assistance and for higher education Pell Grants to mandatory funding (not needing annual appropriations).  The Labor-HHS-Ed Subcommittee did, however, approve the full total authorized for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), $5.1 billion (the same as this year).  Pell Grants rise substantially, from $17.5 billion this year to $23.1 billion in FY 2011, a $5.7 billion increase, which was the amount the President had requested.

In other education funding, the House Subcommittee does not provide all of the funding the President sought for his new Race to the Top initiative.  The President recommended $1.35 billion to fund this new program; the Subcommittee included $800 million.  In another new initiative sought by the President, the Investing in Innovation Fund, the Subcommittee approved $400 million, or $100 million less than the President requested.  However, the Subcommittee provided more than the Administration asked for K-12 Education for the Disadvantaged (Title I), Special Education (IDEA), School Improvement Programs, and Impact Aid.  In all, the Subcommittee provides $7.7 billion more for the Department of Education than its FY 2010 levels, but nearly $1.5 billion less than the President recommended.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet taken up funding for Labor-HHS-Education.

Transportation-HUD:  Both the House and Senate have approved Transportation-HUD appropriations in full committee.  The House expects to bring this bill to the floor during the last week in July, just before Congress’ August recess.  The House Committee reduced T-HUD funding by $500 million below FY 2010 levels, and $1.34 billion less than the President requested.  The full Senate Committee level-funded T-HUD at $67.9 billion.  Low-income housing advocates are relieved that Section 8 rental assistance appears to be adequately funded, although slightly below the President’s recommendation.  The Public Housing Capital Fund receives $2.5 billion in both the House and Senate bills – the same amount as in FY 2010, but higher than the $2.04 billion requested by the President.  There is a large backlog of capital projects needing work that cannot be addressed at this level of funding.  Both the House and Senate Committees flat-fund Housing for the Elderly at $825 million, rejecting the President’s proposal to cut it down to $274 million.  The President had also called for decreasing funding for Housing for Persons with Disabilities to $90 million; the House would retain the FY 2010 level of $300 million; the Senate provides $200 million.  (For a table with multi-year comparisons of funding for housing programs by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, click here.)

Appropriations Bills Status:  The House has completed Appropriations subcommittee work on everything but Defense and Financial Services.  So far, the only full Committee votes have been on Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD, which are both expected to get floor votes during the week of July 26.  The Senate Appropriations full Committee has approved bills for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Military Construction- VA, Homeland Security, and Transportation-HUD.  The remaining bills have not yet been taken up by the subcommittees.  No floor action is yet scheduled.  It is still expected that stop-gap funding (a “continuing resolution”) will be needed to continue funding for programs after the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

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