June 28, 2010

FY11 Appropriations Process Moving Forward

By Christy Gullion

Members of Congress face a busy week as they attempt to advance some major bills before the start of the July Fourth recess.  At the same time, the FY11 appropriations process may also begin to gear up this week and move forward after the July recess period.

House Democrats would like to approve the FY10 supplemental budget by the end of this week, which would provide critical war funding as well as some other “emergency” funding including money to help states prevent teacher layoffs.  Democratic leaders are considering using a process where two separate votes would be taken; one for the war money and another for all the other funding.  The supplemental plan now being circulated by Democrats would total $61.5 billion, and would include $10 billion to prevent K-12 teacher layoffs and $4.95 billion for Pell grants.  The Pell grant funding would help fill a hole in the president’s budget request for FY11, and effectively free up discretionary spending for this year’s appropriations bills.

Meanwhile, we may see action on the FY11 appropriations process this week as the House Appropriations subcommittees begin to consider a series of FY11 spending bills.  House appropriators could have half their bills approved at the subcommittee level by the end of the week, with five markups scheduled.  The Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee approved its draft last week, and the following five subcommittees are set to meet in coming days: Commerce-Justice-Science (Tuesday); Agriculture and State-Foreign Operations (Wednesday); and Legislative Branch and Transportation-HUD (Thursday).   However, most of these bills are not expected to be considered on the House floor before November, necessitating a long-term continuing resolution (CR).   Republican appropriators have already signaled that they intend to offer amendments at the subcommittee mark-ups as they may not get another chance to express their concerns about federal spending until after the mid-term elections.   

The Senate may also begin to move a few of their own spending measures.   The Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee has suggested that a couple of the FY11 spending bills would be considered this week but the schedule is still unclear at this point.  If markups for spending bills are scheduled this week and the committee follows past practices, both a subcommittee and full committee markup would be held for the bills considered.

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