Nearly two months into FY14, Congressional appropriators still cannot craft spending bills because the Budget Conference Committee has yet to provide FY14 spending caps. On November 18, House Committee on Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) and all 12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees, urging quick agreement on an FY14 budget.
“We urge you to redouble your efforts …and report common, top line levels for both the House and Senate before the Thanksgiving recess, or by December 2 at the latest,” the appropriators wrote. “If a timely agreement is not reached, the likely alternatives could have extremely damaging repercussions.” The letter raised the “specter” of another government shutdown, governance by continuing resolution (CR) instead of appropriations bills, and another round of sequestration cuts.
The House and Senate recessed on November 22, and do not return until December 2 and December 9, respectively. This recess leaves few legislative days remaining to address major budget decisions by the conference committee’s December 13 deadline to produce a report on the FY14 budget. Appropriators indicate they need one month to draft bills and pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the CR expires on January 15, the deadline for Congress to negotiate a FY14 budget, and pass an appropriations package or another CR to avoid a second government shutdown. January 15 also is an important date as the Administration would be required to implement FY14 sequestration at that time.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that leadership intends to introduce a full-year FY14 CR at the original House FY14 budget resolution level of $967 billion, perhaps indicating its lack of confidence that the conference committee will arrive at a timely agreement. The House’s original FY14 budget resolution would violate discretionary spending caps, cutting funds from non-defense programs to increase funding for defense programs. Details are not yet known.
The conference committee held a second meeting on November 13 (see Memo, 11/15), but it does not have another public meeting scheduled. Committee Chairs Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) reportedly met twice privately to negotiate since November 13.
Key issues separating Democrats and Republicans on the conference committee are replacing sequestration, raising revenue, and cutting entitlements (see Memo, 11/8). Democrats want to end sequestration by increasing revenues. Chair Murray is encouraging Republicans to identify tax loopholes to close in order to provide revenue to replace sequestration in FY14 and FY15. The Republican leadership opposes increasing revenue, even using that approach. Republicans are divided on whether replace sequestration; those who do advocate cutting entitlements, which most Democrats oppose.
Read Chair Rogers’ letter: http://1.usa.gov/1jh1VXI