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WashingtonWatch.com Digest – May 26, 2015

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of May 25, 2015. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: Food Fight!

Republicans were fighting Republicans last week, and Democrats were fighting Democrats.

Read about it in a post entitled: “Parties Divided!

Featured Item

This week, the House and Senate enjoy a Memorial Day recess.

Last week, President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 into law.

The new law requires the president to transmit various materials to Congress for its review within five days after reaching any agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program.

There is no official cost estimate for the law.

P.L. 114-18
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Click here to vote on The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015
50% For, 50% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 2262
The SPACE Act of 2015
Costs $0.05 per family

H.R. 2263
The Office of Space Commerce Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 282
The Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act
Costs $0.69 per family

H.R. 34
The Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015
Costs $1.04 per family

S. 993
The Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015
Costs $0.85 per family

H.R. 2051
The Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2015
Costs $0.33 per family

S. 1180
The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015
Costs $0.31 per family

S. 434
The Security Clearance Accountability, Reform, and Enhancement Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 758
The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1508
The Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act of 2015
Costs $0.01 per family

S. 1109
The Truth in Settlements Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 2261
The Commercial Remote Sensing Act of 2015
Costs $0.03 per family

H.R. 2353
The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family


Updated Items

none


Passed Items

P.L. 114-12
The Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015
Costs $0.24 per family

P.L. 114-13
To clarify the effective date of certain provisions of the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2014, and for other purposes

P.L. 114-14
The WIOA Technical Amendments Act

P.L. 114-15
The Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act

P.L. 114-16
To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 820 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, as the “Sister Ann Keefe Post Office”

P.L. 114-17
To designate the United States Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry located at First Street and Pan American Avenue in Douglas, Arizona, as the “Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry”

P.L. 114-18
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

Parties Divided!

FoodFightCongress had a funky week before adjourning for the Memorial Day recess. Republicans were fighting Republicans, and Democrats were fighting Democrats.

The Republicans’ grudge match is over NSA spying and the USA FREEDOM Act. This bill, which has passed the House, would curtail the NSA’s spying programs, which include gathering data about all the telephone calls made in the United States.

Republican leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) want to see the authority for this data collection extended. Republican leaders like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) don’t just want it reformed, as the USA FREEDOM Act would do. They want to see NSA spying go away.

Paul’s filibuster last week sent debate on USA FREEDOM into overtime, and he declined Senator McConnell’s efforts to extend NSA spying even for a short while. The Senate will return for a short time before the expiration of the NSA’s arguable legal authority to spy on Americans next week.

You can watch the video of Senator Paul refusing to allow Senator McConnell’s requests to extend the NSA spying program. It doesn’t look very exciting, but it happened after midnight, and it’s a big deal when senators stay up that late.

On the Democratic side, it’s trade promotion authority that has that party divided.

“Fast-track” authority would ease the path for the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership. That’s a major trade package, and the president would be empowered to send it to Congress for a strict up-or-down vote, with no amendments or filibusters. Passage would be on a simple majority—no requirement for a cloture vote requiring 60 ayes in the Senate.

If the president gets this authority, it could lead to the biggest free-trade pact in decades. It’s aggressively opposed by liberal Democrats and labor unions, some of President Obama’s strongest early supporters.

The Trade Act of 2015 is the bill. It passed the House in mid-April, and the Senate passed it last week with an amendment, which means it may go back to the House for final approval, or a House-Senate conference may produce a compromise version of the bill.

Here are the current WashingtonWatch.com votes on these two party-splitting bills.

(1 comment | Categories: Liberty, national defense, Trade » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – May 18, 2015

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of May 18, 2015. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: Spending on Agencies

This week on the blog, we examined what a few of our government agencies cost to operate, because obviously: “Government Programs Cost Money.”

Featured Items

This week, the House will debate a couple of bills related to research and development.

H.R. 880, the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015, would would simplify and make permanent the research tax credit, which encourages companies to spend money on R&D.

Passage of H.R. 880 would save about $1,400 per U.S. family and increase the national debt by the same amount. Families do not save directly from such tax reductions, of course, but they may benefit indirectly through lowered costs and improved quality of things they buy.

H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, would spend about $33 billion over the 2016-2020 period for several agencies to support scientific research, industrial innovation, and educational activities.

Passage of H.R. 1806 would cost about $280 per U.S. family.

H.R. 880
The American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015
Saves $1,405.77 per family

H.R. 1806
The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $279.77 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015. Click here to vote on The American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015.

The American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015
20% For, 80% Against

Vote on this Bill

Click here to vote on The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015. Click here to vote on The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015.

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015
42% For, 58% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 2039
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017
Costs $336.26 per family

S. 710
The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $20.84 per family

S. 967
The CLEAR SBA Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1987
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015
Costs $150.46 per family

H.R. 1335
The Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act
Costs $13.26 per family

H.R. 2042
The Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 623
The Social Media Working Group Act of 2015
Costs $0.07 per family

H.R. 2088
The United States Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $0.92 per family

S. 916
The Don’t Tax Our Fallen Public Safety Heroes Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1561
The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015
Costs $2.17 per family

S. 1269
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015
Costs $20.44 per family

S. 1267
The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015
Saves $87.92 per family

S. 1177
The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015
Costs $784.02 per family

S. 1268
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $7.81 per family


Updated Items

H.R. 1735
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Costs $5,416.52 per family


Passed Items

none

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

Government Programs Cost Money

green threadGovernment programs cost money. But the systems we’ve got for government oversight don’t make it terribly easy to follow the green thread.

A number of bills getting cost estimates in the last week help illustrate how taxpayer money is spent, though, so let’s review.

The annual budgeting and spending process goes on year over year (“appropriations”), but a different batch of laws establishes the legal authority for agencies’ existence and powers in the first place. Those laws also establish the government’s power to expend funds in support of agencies. This is called “authorization.”

Three authorization bills got cost estimates last week for different parts of the U.S. government. Getting a look at them can help you understand how much you pay for federal agencies.

H.R. 1735 is called the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. It authorize appropriations totaling about $605.3 billion for FY 2016 for the military functions of the Department of Defense, certain activities of the Department of Energy, and a few other purposes. Separately, those funds will be appropriated, or spent, in the Department of Defense appropriations bill. This is the legal authority for the spending.

Here at WashingtonWatch.com, we take government estimates of the actual outlays that will occur each year under authorizations and calculate how much each American family would have to put in the bank to fund this spending. This “net present value” calculation finds the cost of H.R. 1735 to be about $5,400 per U.S. family.

Now you’re better positioned to decide whether military spending is too low, too high, or just right. Let your member of Congress and senators know how you feel—and your friends and neighbors, too. It’s all part of your civic duty.

Here is the current vote on H.R. 1735. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

Now, how about NASA?

H.R. 2039 is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017. As you might guess, it allows for spending on NASA in the next two fiscal years—$18.5 billion in 2016 and $18.8 billion in 2017. That means spending of about $330 per U.S. family.

Worth it? Want more? Want less?

Here is the current vote on H.R. 2039. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

Finally, let’s look at the Coast Guard.

H.R. 1987 is the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015. It authorizes appropriations totaling $17.5 billion for operations of the United States Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission over the 2016-2017 period. $150 per U.S. family.

Here is the current vote on H.R. 1987. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

Not every agency of the U.S. government gets reauthorized every year, and sometimes there are appropriations without authorization, which is one of many forms of congressional mismanagement.

But when Congress is doing its job, it gives you a chance to see particulars of how government programs cost money.

(1 comment | Categories: Appropriations/Budget » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – May 11, 2015

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of May 11, 2015. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: USA Freedom—For or Against?

An appellate court decision last week has scrambled the debate over legislation dealing with NSA spying.

Read about it in a post entitled: “The USA FREEDOM Switcheroo.”

Featured Item

On June 1st, section 215 if the USA PATRIOT Act will expire. A recent court ruling has thrown into confusion the debate over the law the government has been using to collect phone calling data about all Americans.

The House recently passed H.R. 2048, the USA FREEDOM Act, which would would prohibit bulk collection of records under section 215, as well as under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and under National Security Letter authorities.

Passage of H.R. 2048 would cost about $0.13 per U.S. family.

H.R. 2048
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015
Costs $0.13 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015. Click here to vote on The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015.

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015
75% For, 25% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

S. 611
The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act
Costs $0.58 per family

H.R. 2048
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015
Costs $0.13 per family

H.R. 1557
The Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act of 2015
Costs $0.07 per family

H.R. 1155
The SCRUB Act of 2015
Costs $0.26 per family

S. 335
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve 529 plans
Saves $0.39 per family

H.R. 1493
The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 907
The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1806
The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $281.35 per family

H.R. 653
The FOIA Act
Costs $0.17 per family

H.R. 237
The FTO Passport Revocation Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 653
The Water Resources Research Amendments Act of 2015
Costs $0.38 per family

H.R. 906
To modify the efficiency standards for grid-enabled water heaters
Costs $0.02 per family

H.R. 1907
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015
Costs $11.49 per family

H.R. 1642
To designate the building utilized as a United States courthouse located at 150 Reade Circle in Greenville, North Carolina, as the “Randy D. Doub United States Courthouse”
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1735
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
Saves $9.98 per family

H.R. 1759
The ALERT Act of 2015
Costs $0.03 per family


Updated Items

none


Passed Items

none

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

The USA FREEDOM Switcheroo

National Security Agency - NSAIf you supported section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act last week, you probably don’t this week. And if last week you wanted it to expire on June 1st, you may see things differently this week. It’s the USA FREEDOM switcheroo. Read on to see what it’s all about.

The first and still most discussed Snowden revelation was that the U.S. government was collecting data about all our calls from U.S. telecommunications companies. The authority to do this, according to the government, was section 215 of the Patriot Act.

A few times since public discovery of the NSA’s domestic spying program, significant factions in Congress have tried to rein it in without success. But there was always the expiration of section 215, which has long been scheduled for June 1st.

Until last week, the debate had been forming up around that June 1st expiration date. Folks on the extreme liberty wing wanted to let 215 die outright. Folks on the extreme security wing wanted to have 215 reauthorized same as before. And folks in the middle were trying to curtail the power given by section 215 so the National Security Agency can’t collect everything.

But the shape of the debate changed last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that section 215 doesn’t allow the NSA spying program at all.

Section 215 allows broad data collection, yes, but only in service of an existing, particular investigation. It doesn’t allow data collection and data warehousing in service of investigations that might happen in the future or investigations of crime and terrorism generally.

Section 215 doesn’t authorize the NSA’s phone spying program—at least according to one influential court.

That means opponents of section 215 last week probably like 215 today, because it doesn’t authorize all that data collection the government was doing. And supporters of 215 last Tuesday probably want to see section 215 amended this week, because the court found that it doesn’t allow the government to do enough.

The bill getting the most focus right now is the USA Freedom Act, which would prohibit bulk collection of records under section 215, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Pen Register and Trap and Trace Device statute, and under National Security Letter authorities. The bill would create a new program for the targeted collection of telephone metadata, provide greater privacy and civil liberties protections for Americans, expand existing congressional oversight provisions, and create greater transparency of national security programs operated pursuant to FISA. The cost of the bill’s passage would be about $0.13 per U.S. family.

At this point, passage of the USA FREEDOM Act could increase domestic spying, rather than reduce it.

Given the switcheroo, your vote for or against the bill is going to be hard to read by others in the WashingtonWatch.com community, so more than ever it’s important not only to vote, but also to explain your vote in the comments.

Here is the current vote on H.R. 2048, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2015. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

(2 comments | Categories: Liberty, national defense » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – May 4, 2015

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of May 4, 2015. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: The Budget Deal

The House and Senate have reached an agreement on the budget plan for fiscal year 2016. But it’s not the agreement you might have expected.

Read about it in a post entitled: “We Have a Budget! And a Fascinating Compromise….”

Featured Item

The House is adjourned until Monday, May 11th. The Senate meets this week.

Last week, the House passed the conference report (House-Senate compromise) on S. Con. Res. 11, the congressional budget resolution. The Senate will take it up this week.

The conference report calls for spending of a bit more than $29,100. That overall spending level will be used to allocated amounts available to appropriations subcommittees to spend.

S. Con. Res. 11
An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025
Costs $29,131.36 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on S. Con. Res. 11. Click here to vote on S. Con. Res. 11.

S. Con. Res. 11
26% For, 74% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

S. 995
The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1890
The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 427
The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1734
The Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015
Costs $0.02 per family

H. J. Res. 43
Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1472
The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2015
Costs $0.32 per family

H.R. 500
The Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment Act
Costs $0.06 per family

H.R. 1531
The Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1567
The Global Food Security Act of 2015
Costs $7.93 per family

H.R. 1732
The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015
Costs $0.04 per family


Updated Items

S. Con. Res. 11
An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025
Costs $29,131.36 per family

H.R. 1891
The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015
Saves $90.50 per family


Passed Items

P.L. 114-11
The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

We Have a Budget! And a Fascinating Compromise…

pile-of-moneyLast week, we asked Congress sternly, “How’s that Quick Budget Deal Coming Along?

With the deadline for a final congressional budget having passed on April 15th, their claim to be moving promptly toward finalizing a budget was dubious. Congress was in trouble with us!

To make amends—and assuredly you understand we’re being tongue-in-cheek about that—congressional leaders sat down last week and hammered out a final budget. The compromise went to the House and received a favorable vote. The Senate is likely to vote on it this week.

The compromise is fascinating, because the two houses of Congress didn’t come out where you might have expected.

Recall that H. Con. Res. 27, the House’s budget resolution, proposed spending of a little under $28,400 per family for fiscal 2016, which starts October 1st. The Senate’s budget, S. Con. Res. 11, proposed about $28,600 per U.S. family.

The compromise between the two spends $29,131 per U.S. family.

Yes, you read that right. The two houses of Congress were about $200 apart on how much money per family they should spend in fiscal 2016. So they took the high proposal, added $500 to it, and agreed on that!

There are a lot of interests competing for congressional dollars, and between the time the House and Senate put forward their proposals and the time they got together to forge a compromise, some of them must have convinced Congress to open the spigot just a little more. Maybe the money will go to good things. Maybe it’s better left with America’s individual taxpayers and businesses. That’s up to you.

But it’s not up to very many people, because most news outlets don’t report at all on basic numbers like the amount of spending Congress plans, proposes, or passes.

Will that change? Maybe if you ask for it. So this week, along with suggesting that you communicate with your member of Congress and senators, we suggest that you also call your local paper and television news station and ask them why they don’t give out the numbers!

Here’s the current vote on the now-larger Senate budget resolution, which is the vehicle for final passage of the congressional budget resolution. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

(1 comment | Categories: Appropriations/Budget » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – April 27, 2015

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of April 27, 2015. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: No-Budget Spending Bills

The spending cart is kind of in front of the budgeting horse.

Read about it in a post entitled: “How’s that Quick Budget Deal Coming Along?

Featured Items

The first two of the annual spending bills for fiscal year 2016 were introduced last week.

H.R. 2028, is the energy, water development, and related agencies spending bill. It includes about $36 billion in spending, or $340 per U.S. family.

H.R. 2029 spends on military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the 2016 fiscal year. That bill has about $172.5 billion in spending. That’s $1,600 per family.

These and ten other bills Congress is supposed to pass during the summer, well ahead of the start of the fiscal year on October 1st, but Congress has rarely done so in recent years.

H.R. 2028
Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes
Costs $341.23 per family

H.R. 2029
Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes
Costs $1,627.19 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on H.R. 2028. Click here to vote on H.R. 2028.

H.R. 2028
50% For, 50% Against

Vote on this Bill

Click here to vote on H.R. 2029. Click here to vote on H.R. 2029.

H.R. 2029
50% For, 50% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 2028
Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes
Costs $341.23 per family

H.R. 2029
Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes
Costs $1,627.19 per family

H.R. 308
The Keep the Promise Act of 2015
Costs $2.28 per family

S. 1031
A bill to amend the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to improve the Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 764
The National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2015
Costs $3.47 per family

H.R. 336
To direct the Administrator of General Services, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, to convey certain Federal property located in the State of Alaska to the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1158
The Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 944
To reauthorize the National Estuary Program, and for other purposes
Costs $1.01 per family

S. 1009
A bill to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Generalized System of Preferences, the preferential duty treatment program for Haiti, and for other purposes
Saves $6.59 per family

H.R. 1473
The John F. Kennedy Center Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $1.50 per family

H.R. 1770
The Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015
Costs $0.07 per family

S. 615
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015
Costs $0.00 per family


Updated Items

none


Passed Items

P.L. 114-10
The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015
Costs $1,219.82 per family

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

How’s that Quick Budget Deal Coming Along?

budget_processYes, we are all about that budget around here. It’s the national government’s most significant annual expression of values.

April 15th was the deadline for the House and Senate to decide on a budget for the federal government in fiscal 2016. But that deadline came and went without Congress finalizing an overall spending plan.

Budget leaders in the House and Senate promised to “strike a deal quickly,” but definitions of “quickly” appear to differ. The congressional budget resolution is nearly two weeks late now.

What has happened is a meeting. Last week, the conference committee on the FY 2016 budget got together. Members of the committee, appointed by the House and Senate to represent their respective sides, made statements about the budget, then they adjourned without undertaking any real work. (In fairness, pretty much all the work goes on behind the scenes.) You can watch it—all two hours of it—on C-SPAN.

When a budget is finalized, it is used to create what are called 302(b) allocations. Those are amounts assigned to each of the appropriations subcommittees for them to spend.

Makes sense, right? Once you’ve got a budget, you decide how to spend it.

But in the absence of a budget and their 302(b) allocations, the appropriations subcommittees are already starting to move bills. Late last week, two appropriations bills were introduced in the House.

H.R. 2028, is the energy, water development, and related agencies spending bill. It includes about $36 billion in spending, or about $340 per U.S. family.

H.R. 2029 makes appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the 2016 fiscal year. That bill has about $172.5 billion in spending. That’s $1,600 per family.

It’s not terrible to see the appropriations subcommittees moving forward. They are supposed to finish by mid-summer so that agencies can plan for the start of the fiscal year on October 1st. But that should happen after Congress has produced a final budget.

So how’s that quick budget deal coming along?

Here are the current votes on the spending bills introduced last week. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki articles on the bills.

(2 comments | Categories: Appropriations/Budget » )