House/Senate budget allocations at odds, and committees get busy with appropriations bills

Let the 2013 disagreements begin!

On April 24 House appropriators approved Fiscal Year 2013 spending bill allocations that are $27 billion lower than the Senate’s, setting the stage for tough conference negotiations to enact any spending measures this year. House appropriators approved annual 302(b) allocations (that is, the division of available funds among appropriations subcommittees) that followed the $1.028 trillion level set in the House budget resolution.

The House Appropriations panel rejected a Democratic proposal to set spending levels that would instead conform to the $1.047 trillion level called for by the 2011 debt limit law, the Budget Control Act, which is the top line that Senate appropriators approved last week. The House allocated $8 billion more than the Budget Control Act level for defense, exempting defense from a potential sequester of funds, and $19 billion less for domestic discretionary funding, creating a $27 billion difference between the two chambers’ budget assumptions.

The White House Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to appropriators last week assuring Congress that the President will veto any legislation that does not conform to the Budget Control Act numbers.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the Energy-Water spending bill on April 24, the first of the 12 appropriations bills that must be enacted by September 30, 2012, and the Committee is set to approve the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) measure as well. (The CJS bill includes the National Science Foundation—more information on that bill soon). The Senate Appropriations Committee is keeping pace, advancing the Energy and Water and Agriculture bills.