Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Funding Bills Move to House Floor

The U.S. House of Representatives is racing to finish floor work on its 12 funding bills for fiscal year (FY) 2023. On July 18 the House Rules Committee considered a series of amendments that impacted the Energy and Water, Agriculture, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bills. These bills were combined with three other funding measures into a single package.

After the committee chair’s s opening remarks, Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee and House Rules Committee Ranking member Tom Cole (R-OK) said that he could not support the partisan funding bills. Cole was also deeply concerned that the defense spending number was not in line with the National Defense Authorization Act of nearly $840 billion, stating it must come up while nondefense discretionary spending needs to come down as well as returning long standing prohibitions on the use of federal funds for abortion. Additionally, Republicans said that double-digit increases to programs and the current inflation rate also continue to be stumbling blocks to the 11 percent increase for these six funding bills being considered. In fact, during the hearing, one retiring member brought up the lack of a cost-of-living increase over the past 13 years for those serving in Congress, and the need to take a closer look at this so that a broad swath of people across the country can afford to serve in Congress instead of only millionaires and billionaires. Cole stated that he hoped that before the start of the 118th Congress, the FY 2023 bills would be completed without a continuing resolution so that a new Congress can come in with a clean slate.

Kicking off the testimony on the spending bills was Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) from the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Ranking member Mike Simpson (R-ID) said that the overall funding level for the Energy and Water bill did not have minority party support, but he appreciated the collaborative efforts working with his chair in getting each sides priorities in their bill.

Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) submitted an amendment, that was not made part of the rule, to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science from $8 billion by adding an additional $1.5 billion. This amendment was an opportunity to bring attention to this office for fiscal year 2024. Another revised amendment offered by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) would increase the proposed Office of Science funding of $8 billion by an additional $500,000 with an offsetting decrease from the DOE operational category of salaries and expenses to support a study on low-level radiation’s impact on human health in the Rules Committee Print 117-55.  A full list of 190 amendments that were made in order can be found here with floor consideration beginning on July 19.

Chair Sanford Bishop (D-GA) said that the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies funding bill allocation of $27.2 billion is an 8 percent increase over FY 2022. It is supportive of agricultural research that maintains food and fiber supplies, with $3.6 billion for critical agricultural research programs. However, acting ranking member Andy Harris (R-MD) said that these were unsustainable increases.

Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) testimony for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies funding bill included pointing out the $926 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic program that would address the specific medical needs of veterans. Toxic exposure, mental health, and precision oncology were a few of those areas where the translation of biomedical research can result in clinically relevant treatment. You can learn more about the impact of these programs in your state or district here.

The House finally passed the package of six 2023 appropriations bills on a 220–207 vote. Going forward, the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies  and LHHS funding bills should be in the next package considered on the House floor, but discussions are still taking place about those measures. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its funding bills on July 28. The Senate bills were developed without Republican input and include accompanying explanatory statements. The Senate Appropriations Committee is not planning any markups at this time.