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Congress Continues Budget and Appropriations Work


April 22, 2012

By: Mitch

Over the past week, there have been a number of developments related to the federal funding process. On April 18, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) held an unusual committee markup for his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget resolution. In an unexpected move, Conrad offered up a version of the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction plan that was first proposed by the Presidential Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010. However, little action will come of this announcement since no amendments were allowed during the markup and no votes are expected on the measure in either the budget committee or on the Senate floor.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has confirmed that the Senate will use the $1.047 trillion level set by the Budget Control Act for their appropriations purposes. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure on Thursday to officially set that cap in a bipartisan vote of 27-2. They also determined how the overall spending level would be divided among the 12 appropriations bills. The individual FY 2013 spending level, known as a 302(b) allocation, for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is $157.7 billion in the Senate, an increase of $1.5 billion over the current level. Funding for education programs like Perkins will come from this appropriations pot.

As we reported earlier, the House-passed budget resolution caps federal discretionary spending at $1.028 trillion. On Tuesday, the House passed a procedural measure that allows them to move forward with their appropriations work using this total. Since their discretionary spending cap is $19 billion below the Senate, the House 302(b) allocations will likely be lower. The committee is expected to make that announcement in the next few weeks.

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