Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Thursday, August 12, 2021

House Passes Minibus Appropriations Bill Before the August Recess

On July 29 the House finished consideration of seven appropriations bills combined into minibus bill H.R.4502 - Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2022. Upon adoption of H. Resolution 555, the House considered H.R.4502 under the rule which covered 229 amendments for the minibus. Amendments submitted, but not necessarily made in order to justify the Labor, Health and Human Services portion of the bill, are also available for viewing.

H.R.4502, encompassing seven of the 12 annual bills, used a process that grouped amendments into six “en bloc” packages. The House chamber completed votes on amendments (En Bloc #5) and (En Bloc #6) after a brief daylong pause, then passed the minibus on July 29 with a vote of 219 to 208. However, the House was unable to work on the Commerce, Justice,  Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, H.R.4505, under the rule and the accompanying H. Resolution 567 before leaving for August recess.

As mentioned in Inside (the Beltway) Scoop from July 30, there were amendments of interest that made it through the House floor vote.  Following those floor votes, $3 million was added to the National Institutes of Health top line from the $49 billion coming out of the full committee markup. See Amendment #41 from Rep. David Schwikert (R-AZ) and Amendment #56 from Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) under amendments of interest (pages 10 and 12, respectively). Other amendments of interest included Amendment #187, from Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), that increased Medical and Prosthetic Research for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by $2 million, which is offset by a reduction to Veterans Benefits Administration General Operating Expenses. This amendment increases the VA’s budgeted amount to $904 million from the House Appropriations Committee passed amount of $902 million. Whether this increase remains will depend on how the Senate responds as it moves its own Military Construction bill through its process. Rep. Danny Davis (R-IL) also had Amendment # 61, which increased funding to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Research and Education Activities account (from which the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, AFRI, is funded) by $2 million, and decreased the Agriculture Buildings and Facilities account by $3 million. It passed on the House floor as part of the En Bloc #3 package. It is unclear, at this time, if any of this will go to AFRI. However, the importance of agricultural research was emphasized with Amendment #72 from Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).

Prior to the Senate leaving for their recess, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies approved S.2599, which includes $25.86 billion in discretionary funding to support federal agriculture and nutrition programs for fiscal year 2022. The Senate Appropriations Committee then moved to full committee consideration on August 4 to complete three of 12 spending bills. They were Energy and Water (S.2605); Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (S.2604); and Agriculture (S.2599). Out of full committee, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science received $7.49 billion; Veterans Military and Prosthetics received $882 million; and AFRI received $445 million. Senate floor consideration dates have not yet been set.