The administration often releases its annual budget request to Congress at the start of February. While the “President’s Budget” is a non-binding set of priorities and recommendations, it marks the ceremonial beginning of the appropriations process. However, when a new administration takes office, particularly when the political party also changes, the budget request can be delayed. With the Biden administration re-writing the budget request for FY 2022, the proposal is not expected for some time. The fact that Biden’s nominee for OMB Secretary, Neera Tanden, is facing a rocky confirmation process may further delay the administration’s budget. However, when the document is released, it is expected to reverse recent years or proposed cuts to medical research programs and call for robust investment instead.
Congress is not waiting for the budget request this year to being its business of crafting the annual appropriations bills. The process was mildly delayed by the impeachment trial and the need to name new committee members when the balance of power shifted in the Senate following the Democrats success in the Georgia runoff elections. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is the new Chair of the House Appropriations Committee while also retaining control of her Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. On the Senate side, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) will Chair the Senate Appropriations Committee and looks to continue the tone of bipartisanship with his “Vice Chair”, Senator Richard Shelby (D-AL).
The House and Senate are expected to work diligently to advance the annual appropriations bills as soon as work on the pending COVID-19 response package is completed. The internal process has already started, but with the pandemic keeping the Capitol closed to visitors it is unclear how hearings, markups, and outside witness testimony will proceed for FY 2022.