CHN: House Gets Started on Next Year’s Appropriations

Details are slowly emerging on appropriations levels for FY 2010.  The House Appropriations Committee approved the allocations for each of its dozen subcommittees on June 9, dividing up a total $1.088 trillion in discretionary (a.k.a. annually appropriated) spending.  Over all, the House appropriations totals are less than 1 percent below the President’s recommendations for FY 2010 (about $8.9 billion below).  The House tried to minimize the difference between its funding for domestic appropriations and the President’s request, with $6.9 billion of their reductions below the President’s recommendations occurring in defense and international spending.   In domestic programs, the House provides about $2 billion less than the President’s recommendation (about half of one percent less), much of which could be made up if the House later agrees to add funds set aside for home energy assistance.
Advocates who feared that the House would be forced to reduce Labor-Health and Human Services-Education programs below the President’s recommendations should be reassured by the total allocated to that subcommittee.  With $161.5 billion provided, the House funding is only $53 million less than the President’s request.  The Budget Resolution allowed the House to add $1.9 billion for emergency home energy assistance to this amount if Congress does not adopt the President’s proposal to turn those emergency funds into a more secure mandatory program (not subject to annual appropriations).  Those funds are not yet included; if they are added later, total Labor-HHS-Education funding will exceed the President’s request.  Leaving out economic recovery funding in FY’s 2009 and 2010, the House total for Labor-HHS-Ed is $9.2 billion more than funding in FY 2009 (an increase of 6.1 percent).  These numbers are a dramatic shift from the Bush Administration proposals to cut human needs funding; nevertheless, rising unemployment and poverty and state cutbacks mean that needs have grown enormously.

Similarly, other appropriations bills with significant amounts of human needs spending have totals close to the President’s recommendations.  Agriculture, with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and emergency food programs, receives a total of $22.9 billion in the House plan, a little less than the nearly $22.98 billion requested by the President.  The appropriations subcommittee covering Transportation and Housing and Urban Development programs totals $68.82 billion in the House; and $68.88 billion in the President’s budget.

For a listing of the allocations to all the House Appropriations subcommittees, and how these figures compare with the President’s FY 2010 request and with this year’s spending, see:

Appropriations Committee Action So Far

The first appropriations bill to reach the House floor is for the Departments of Commerce-Justice-Science (H.R. 2847), which will be taken up on the House floor on June 16.  Included in Commerce-Justice-Science are funds for juvenile justice and violence against women services, as well as funding for annual and decennial Census Bureau surveys.  The House Appropriations Committee approved $64.4 billion in FY 2010 funding, nearly $200 million less than the President’s request, but up 12 percent over the current year, without taking into account $16 billion in economic recovery funding provided for these departments in FY’s 2009 and 2010.  Juvenile Justice programs receive a total of $385 million from the Committee, up $11 million from FY 2009, and $68 million more than the President requested.  Within this total is $55 million for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, the same as in FY 2009 and matching the President’s request for FY 2010.

The Violence Against Women Act office receives $400 million from the Committee, down $15 million from the current year, not counting economic recovery funds that pushed the total for FY 2009 to $640 million.  Services include legal help for victims of violence, transitional housing assistance, training for service providers to deal with child abuse problems, and various prevention and treatment programs. The President requests about the same amount as current year funding.  At this writing, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) had filed two amendments to increase legal assistance for victims of violence against women by a total of $12 million, which would be added to the total for Violence Against Women Act services.

With the 2010 Census approaching, advocates are concerned that funding is adequate for an accurate count.  The Census Bureau receives nearly $7.4 billion in the House bill, up from $4.14 billion in FY 2009 (the FY 2009 figure includes $1 billion included in economic Recovery Act funding to cover preparations for the decennial census this year).  The House bill matches the President’s request.  Advocates tracking Census funding believe the amount proposed is tight, and are worried about amendments filed for final action on the House floor that reduce Census funding still further in order to increase other programs.  Analysts believe that the amount for unexpected contingencies needs to be increased by about $200 million by the time the legislation is signed into law.

Commerce/Justice/Science also covers the Legal Services Corporation, which funds legal help for low-income people dealing with landlord-tenant disputes, credit problems, and other non-criminal legal problems.  Language included in the House bill ends the prohibition on legal services attorneys recovering legal fees when their clients win their cases.  Additional funding from recovered legal fees may be an important help as legal services offices struggle to serve the surging number of foreclosure and debt cases.

The Agriculture Subcommittee recommended a 10 percent increase in domestic food programs funded through annual appropriations when it met on June 11.  These include the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC). The Subcommittee recommended $7.54 billion for WIC, less than the President’s $7.78 billion request.  The Subcommittee also approved $250.6 million for Commodity Assistance Programs (nearly $20 million more than the President requested, and up from this year’s $230 million).  Other nutrition programs, including emergency food programs, are funded at $152.8 million (less than the President’s $155.1 million, but up from FY 2009’s $142.6 million).

Timetable for Other Appropriations Bills

Before Congress departs for its Fourth of July recess (June 29 – July 6), the House leadership has scheduled Homeland Security, Legislative Branch, and Interior and Environment for floor action, in addition to this week’s Commerce/Justice/Science floor votes.  Also during the week of June 15, the full Committee is expected to approve the Agriculture appropriations bill, with floor action scheduled for July 8.

The Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee is expected to take up its bill starting July 8, and to reach the House floor during the week of July 21.  Transportation/Housing and Urban Development appropriations will be marked up in Subcommittee on July 15, with floor action anticipated on July 28.  (For the tentative House Appropriations schedule, see

The Senate is not as far along.  The Senate Appropriations Committee will approve its division of funding among the dozen subcommittees on Thursday, June 18, and will also take up its Homeland Security and Legislative Branch bills on that day.

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