With the debt ceiling, budget, and spending deal in place (the Fiscal Responsibility Act, P.L. 118-5), the House and Senate are moving forward with marking up their respective appropriations bills. The House, in an effort to placate the more-conservative elements of the Republican majority, announced that it would mark up non-Defense bills at levels lower than those recently negotiated by Congress and the Administration. Meanwhile, Senate appropriators bemoaned the low spending levels for both Defense and Non-Defense programs and indicated an interest in innovative efforts to provide supplemental funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations.
Thus far, the House has marked up key FY24 spending bills for the Department of Defense (DOD); Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Programs (MilConVA); and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (AgFDA). The DOD and MilConVA bills include funding increases, and some additional funding for medical research programs. The AgFDA bill is cut below the FY23 funding level in the House proposal, but user fees and other budget gimmicks are used to minimize program reductions. The Senate has marked up its MilConVA Bill and AgFDA, with modest increases for both Defense and Non-Defense programs. It is also important to note that the House bills are full of partisan policy riders, which have traditionally been removed when final spending measures are negotiated.
Traditionally, bills with broad bipartisan support are considered early, while more contentious appropriations bills, such as the Labor-HHS-Education measure, are considered later in the process. Neither the House nor Senate markup for medical research and public health programs through the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill has been announced at this time. Appropriations in both the House and Senate though are already acknowledging the need to pass a Continuing Appropriations Resolution (CR) at the start of FY 2024 (October 1st) and then work on finalizing appropriations before the end of calendar year 2023.
By: Dane Christiansen, Washington Representative