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Congress Misses Budget Resolution Deadline

Congress missed the April 15 statutory deadline to approve a budget and begin the process of passing annual spending bills. Conservative Republicans in the House continue to argue in favor of lower spending levels, against those who want to align with the $1.07 trillion discretionary spending level passed in last year’s bipartisan budget agreement. Nevertheless, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) maintains that the House will adhere to regular order, and House appropriators continue to make progress on individual spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2017, despite the slim chances of these bills making it to the floor in the near future. Law allows House appropriations bills to proceed to the floor after May 15 in the absence of a budget resolution. The full House Appropriations Committee advanced funding for the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) last week, using the spending levels outlined in in the 2015 budget deal. The details of the House FY 2017 Agriculture/FDA spending bill were also released. The $21.3 billion spending bill is $451 million less than FY 2016 levels and $281 million below the president’s request. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would receive a $33 million increase over FY 2016 levels, and the budget would approve the collection of $64 million in extra user fees over last year, resulting in a total budget of $4.478 billion, $300 million less than requested in the President’s budget. The bill provides $10 million in funding through the FDA for continued Zika and Ebola response activities. The spending bill would require the FDA to begin incorporating post-market patient experience into its review of new drugs, and establish an expedited review process for certain medical devices.
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he would begin moving appropriations bills to the Senate floor this week, likely starting with Energy-Water. The budget agreement allows the Senate the option of simply naming the budget limits for the individual spending bills between April 15 and May 15, so that the chamber can proceed under regular order while the budget resolution continues to be negotiated. The Senate could use House-passed FY 2016 appropriations as vehicles for FY 2017 in order to avoid procedural challenges requiring appropriations bills to originate in the House. If floor action begins this week, it would be the earliest consideration of a spending bill in the chamber since the modern budget process began in the 1970s. The Senate’s first spending bill, for MilCon/VA was advanced out of subcommittee and full Committee last week. The draft bill provides $177.4 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the VA, which includes increases for health care as well as medical and prosthetic research. This funding would be a $14.7 billion increase above FY 2016 and $160 million above the President’s request. The Senate also disclosed the 12-subcommittee spending allocations, known as 302(b) allocations, in preparation for consideration of spending bills on
the floor. The 302(b) spending allocation for the Agriculture/FDA bill is $21.25 billion, down from $21.75 billion in FY 2016. The Labor/HHS/Education allocation is $161.9 billion, down from $162.1 billion. The remainder of the allocations
are as follows:

  • Commerce-Justice-Science would receive $56.285 billion, up from $55.7 billion.
  • Defense would receive $515.95 billion, up from $514.1 billion in current base spending, and $58.6 billion in overseas contingency operations spending, equal to the current level.
  • Energy and Water would receive $37.5 billion, up from $37.2 billion.
  • Financial Services would receive $22.4 billion, down from $23.2 billion.
  • Homeland Security would receive $41.2 billion, up from $40.96 billion
  • Interior-Environment would receive $32 billion, down slightly from $32.2 billion.
  • Legislative Branch would receive $4.4 billion, about the same as current levels.
  • Military Construction-VA would receive $83 billion, up from $79.9 billion.
  • State-Foreign Operations would receive $37.2 billion in base funding and $14.9 billion in overseas contingency operations funding for a total of $52.1 billion, down from $52.7 billion.
  • Transportation-HUD would receive $56.5 billion, down from $57.3 billion.

The allocations were approved 29-1, with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) voting no.

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