The House Appropriations Committee officially kicked off the FY2019 appropriations season with two subcommittee markups this week. They began with two of the least controversial of the 12 annual spending bills – Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch.
Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA)
The $96.9B FY19 MilCon-VA spending bill is $4.2B above the FY18 enacted level and includes $921.4M in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The Department of Veterans Affairs received an increase of $3.9B in discretionary funds over the FY18 enacted level while military construction received an increase of $412M. The bill does not include the Administration’s request for an additional $1.9B for the Veterans Choice Program.
The bill includes some oversight provisions requiring reporting on the status of VA claims processing, requiring an ongoing GAO review of the development of the VA electronic health record, requiring quarterly VA reporting and Committee investigative staff review of the conversion of the VA financial management system, requiring quarterly briefings on large construction projects that are managed outside of VA, limiting funding transfers between construction projects, limiting changes in the scope of construction projects, and restricting certain spending actions without notification to Congress.
And while the bill is one of the least controversial of the spending bills, MilCon-VA appropriations subcommittee ranking member Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) protested the inclusion of a $69M provision to build a new prison for “high-value” terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Democrats want to shut down the prison. Forty-one terrorist suspects remain at the facility.
The $3.8B FY19 Legislative Branch spending bill is $132M above the FY18 enacted level. This excludes the Senate-only items, which, by tradition, is added later by the Senate.
The bill includes $1.2B to fund the operations of the House (an increase of $32M above FY18), $456.4M for the Capitol Police (an increase of $29.9M), $5.4M for the Office of Compliance, $642M for the Architect of the Capitol (an increase of $31.5M), $709.8M for the Library of Congress (an increase of $40M), $579M for the Government Accountability Office (same as FY18), $117M for the Government Publishing Office (same as FY18), and $5.6M for the Open World Leadership Center (same as FY18).
When the House returns the week of May 7, the Energy & Water Subcommittee will mark up its FY19 spending bill on Monday, May 7 at 5:30 pm. The Transportation-HUD Subcommittee is expected to hold its markup during the week of May 16. And while the spending season has begun, don’t expect it to be finished before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
House Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Bill
House Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Press Release
Legislative Branch Bill
Legislative Branch Press Release