Now that Congress and the Administration have raised the debt ceiling and passed a deficit reduction plan with the Budget Control Act of 2011, the work of determining FY12 appropriations is at hand for Congress (see Memo, 8/5). Simultaneously, Congress will identify the second stage of spending cuts required by the new law (see related article elsewhere in Memo).
The Budget Control Act, signed into law on August 2, puts into place caps on security and non-security discretionary spending for the next ten years. These caps are anticipated to achieve savings of $917 billion in spending over that period. The FY12 cap requires cuts of $21 billion to discretionary spending compared to FY11 funding, with future fiscal years requiring much greater cuts.
The House Committee on Appropriations passed six of its twelve FY12 appropriations bills prior to Congress coming to agreement on an FY12 discretionary spending level. The $21 billion in cuts is not as deep a cut as the House FY12 Budget Resolution would have required. The Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, Harold Rogers (R-KY), has instructed subcommittees to amend bills to spend at the higher level agreed to in the new law. The House will have to amend its budget resolution or take other measures to allow individual bills that exceed the amount of the current 302b allocations to be considered by the House.
The House Appropriations Committee is now expected to amend the funding level of bills that have already passed. It is not clear whether the committee will bring the bills to the House floor to pass them individually, or wait to negotiate an omnibus with the Senate. The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) was scheduled to mark-up its bill in July but postponed markup until after a deficit reduction agreement was reached in August.
While the Senate Committee on Appropriations has not passed the 302b funding levels for its 12 appropriations subcommittees, now that the overall discretionary funding for FY12 is known, subcommittee staff are ready to move forward with FY12 bills.
Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development submitted an FY12 funding request to the Appropriations T-HUD Subcommittee at the end of July. The members ask for the T-HUD subcommittee to support a range of programs including Section 8 rental assistance, public housing, homeless assistance, housing for special populations, housing counseling, community development and HOME, fair housing, healthy homes, Native American and Hawaiian housing assistance, and place-based initiatives.
The letter is somewhat slimmer and carries fewer signatures than the FY10 letter from the subcommittee. This year’s letter prioritizes restoring funding to housing counseling programs, followed by maintaining funding for rental assistance and public housing. Compared to last year’s letter, fewer programs and policy initiatives are mentioned. The authors acknowledge the T-HUD subcommittee’s challenge in making “difficult choices in the current environment.”
With only a few weeks between when Congress returns and the October 1 start of the fiscal year, it is unlikely that Congress will be able to pass all of its FY12 appropriations bills, an omnibus bill or a full year Continuing Resolution (CR). Instead, Congress is expected to pass a short term CR that will fund the government until FY12 appropriations details are agreed upon.
View the Committee on Banking Subcommittee letter at http://nlihc.org/doc/Senate_Banking_THUD_Letter_7-29-11.pdf