Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Thursday, June 17, 2021

Work Begins in Earnest to Determine Top Line Spending Numbers for House Appropriations

Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriation bills to fund the government are being developed even before releasing a full budget resolution for FY 2022. Instead, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) is using a deeming resolution, also known as a “deemer,” to establish enforceable appropriations caps in the absence of statutory spending limits. It will need to be adopted in both chambers of Congress and does not require presidential signature. The deemer in the House can have its own spending caps for appropriators rather than match the Senate’s.

The House number in the resolution is $1.5 trillion for regular discretionary appropriations for this upcoming fiscal year, where nondefense discretionary is higher than defense. This is an unpopular move with some members of Congress who believe defense should always be higher.

Legislative maneuvering continues after Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough ruled a few weeks ago saying that President Biden and the Democrats have one more opportunity to use budget reconciliation to pass legislation without needing Republican votes in the Senate. This ruling derailed original plans of revising the FY 2021 budget resolution several times in the Senate, as Senate Democrats intended, so that they could have more chances to use reconciliation through the FY 2022 process and pass more than one bill without Senate Republican support. In this Congress, counting on Senate Republicans to join Democratic-led legislation to reach 60 votes cannot be assured. The expectation is that this last attempt at reconciliation will be used to pass into law Biden’s infrastructure package—another top priority of this administration—which is still under negotiations. However, it is likely to shrink from its original proposed amount after negotiations are finished.

Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is moving ahead with a series of hearings on the President’s FY 2022 requests followed by markups of the individual spending bills in July. No formal top line spending numbers have been set in the Senate but talks have begun. Additionally, the House Appropriations Committee released its markup schedule for completing its individual appropriations bills.