FY17 Budget Resolution and Appropriations Update – March 25, 2016

FY17 Budget Resolution

House Republicans were supposed to adopt an FY17 budget resolution this week before adjourning for the spring recess, but disagreement by the House Freedom Caucus over the $1.07T discretionary spending level caused House leaders to delay action on the budget until after the recess. The House Budget Committee approved the FY17 budget resolution last week by a vote of 20 to 16 with two Republicans opposed. But its consideration on the floor has been postponed because it lacks enough GOP support to pass. This week, the committee released the report accompanying the budget resolution, which can be found at:


The House returns on April 12, leaving just four days to adopt a budget by the statutory deadline of April 15. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) has said that he wants the House to adopt a budget resolution. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) tried to broker an agreement with the Freedom Caucus by coupling the FY17 budget resolution with consideration of separate legislation that would cut $30B in entitlement programs. The House Ways and Means Committee has already passed legislation providing about $98B in spending cuts and offsets over 10 years, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill that would cut spending by $25B over 10 years. But the House Judiciary Committee adjourned a markup this week that would have overhauled the medical liability system providing savings to make up part of the $30B. The Judiciary Committee cited scheduling conflicts and an insufficient number of members for a quorum as the reason for the adjournment. Finally, the House Financial Services Committee is planning a markup for after the recess that would add to the $30B spending cuts, but the Agriculture Committee is not likely to take up any measures until the chairman knows that the budget process is going to move forward. Conservatives in the House are skeptical that the $30B in cuts will be enacted into law. So some Republicans in the House are now working on a mechanism that could make the $1.07T discretionary spending level contingent on enactment of legislation making $30B in cuts to mandatory spending programs.

While leadership tries to work this out, aides are considering alternatives to a budget resolution including a “deeming” resolution that would set a simple topline discretionary spending limit. However, they would need the support of Democrats to get this passed, which would risking weakening GOP unity. Or they could proceed to the annual appropriations bills without a budget resolution.

On the Senate side, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Michael Enzi (R-WY) is planning on using the Balanced Budget Act of 2015 to provide the necessary authority for setting the $1.07B top-line discretionary budget.

FY17 Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee kicked off the FY17 appropriations process this week with the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) subcommittee marking up its $81.6B FY17 spending bill. The bill is $1.8B more than the FY16 enacted level, but $1.2B less than the President’s FY17 budget request. It provides $7.9B for military construction projects (a decrease of $305M below FY16 enacted levels and $250M above the President’s FY17 budget request) and $73.5B in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (an increase of $2.1B over FY16 enacted levels). The bill was approved by voice vote in the subcommittee, and the target date for full committee markup is April 13. A copy of the draft bill text can be found at:


With no budget resolution adopted in the House, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) is instructing his committee to markup their bills at the $1.07T overall discretionary funding level. But he did not give his subcommittee chairmen “notional” discretionary allocations (302(b)s) for their individual bills before leaving for the spring recess. Rogers has said that he supports bringing the bills to the floor after May 15 if there is no budget resolution in place by then. Under the 1974 budget law that created the current day appropriations process, the House must wait until after May 15 to bring spending bills to the floor unless that rule gets waived. Rogers acknowledged that it would be up to House leadership to waive this rule, but indicated that he intends to have all (or as many as possible) of the 12 spending bills through full committee and ready for floor action by May 15. Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) has asked Rogers to prioritize the Commerce-Justice-Science and Homeland Security bills in the process given the attacks in Belgium. However, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Chairman of the Energy and Water subcommittee, has said that his subcommittee’s bill “probably” would be next.


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