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Archive for the ‘Appropriations/Budget’ Category

The National Debt Has Gone Up

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

national-debtIt happens when Congress lifts the debt limit. The national debt rises.

And last week the national debt saw a record one-day increase of over $339 billion.

That’s not because a lot of money flowed out of the government all at once. The Treasury Department has been using resourceful bookkeeping to keep the debt number down. It stopped doing so with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act, and the jump reflects a move to a more accurate debt number.

The debt is now just over $18.6 trillion. That’s about $180,000 per U.S. family or $58,000 per person, twice the number in the picture at the right. (Last week, the debt was $176,400 per family and $56,400 per person.)

Then there’s the question of what the debt should be. Debt hawks would say “ZERO.” The existence of any national debt at all reflects irresponsibility on the part of Congress and the federal government.

Others argue that debt is normal for any organization, including governments. The question is whether the debts were incurred for things that produce more revenue than the debt costs to maintain. A hundred eighty thousand dollars is not unreasonable debt for an increasingly productive family, and $58,000 is not unreasonable for a productive person.

But has government been spending on things that make the country more productive, like infrastructure and stimulus that primes the economic pump? Or has the government been spending on destructive war and indolence-promoting welfare?

These are deep-running questions that go to our national values. Reasonable people hold views on both sides of this question.

And it doesn’t do much good to argue about it. Rather, people of all views should track what the spending goes to and whether they think it’s a good use of their taxpayer dollars.

WashingtonWatch.com offers some aide in this effort, and we working to improve our capabilities. When bills have a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, we add that into our database and present a “net present value” calculation reflecting the cost or savings per family, person, and so on. (“Net present value” is the amount you’d have to put in the bank today to fund future spending. It’s a way of presenting lots of different spending numbers as a single amount.)

The CBO doesn’t always produce honest numbers. Sometimes Congress requires it to use “baseline budgeting,” which assumes rising spending amounts so that their reports only reflect changes from that. We working on exposing that type of white lie for you.

You should follow along, decide whether spending meets up with your personal values, and act accordingly. That means voting “yes” or “no” on the bills, commenting to say why you voted as you did, and sharing this information with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. (Try not to annoy your co-workers, of course.)

Politics is social. Talk about the facts you learn on WashingtonWatch.com, Tweet about them, and post on Facebook. This will be more persuasive (if less provocative) than your big-government, small-government opinions and who you love and who you hate in the Republican and Democractic presidential debate. Be persuasive with your knowledge of neutrally-stated facts.

The national debt has gone up. It’s your debt as a taxpayer. Your attention to federal spending should go up and stay up, too.

Yes. It Stinks.

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

“This process stinks,” said Paul Ryan (R-WI) ahead of becoming the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, and truer words could not be said. What’s interesting, though, is that passage of H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, eases the burden on him. He won’t have to organize a chaotic House Republican caucus for a debate on increasing the limit on the national debt that Congress has placed in law. Outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-WI) organized a budget deal that breaks through spending caps known as “sequestration,” increases the debt limit, annnnnd lowers near-term spending.

Yes, for budget hawks, that’s a sort of silver lining in the budget bill passed last week, stinky though it is. According to the Congressional Budget Office estimate for the bill, it saves about $86 per U.S. family by lowering spending more than it raises taxes. It lowers each family’s share of the national debt by more than $500 dollars.

But it’s not all motherhood and apple pie. Increased spending comes right now, and the bulk of the spending cuts come in ten years. The bill increases the national debt in the near term and lowers it later. We’ve seen this before. Congress doesn’t hold itself to spending cuts.

To illustrate, the New York Times published a fascinating, if slightly confusing, graphic this week showing how Congress has repeatedly broken through the “sequestration” spending caps.

But here’s why we think the process stinks: all the stuff that the bill is doing, all at once, without any of the public deliberation that should surround congressional legislation. Here, from a section‐by‐section summary provided to the House Rules Committee, is some of all the stuff in the bill.

  • – Amends the Federal Crop Insurance Act to require that the Standard Reinsurance Agreement be renegotiated no later than December 31, 2016 and at least once every five years thereafter.
  • – Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to authorize the use of automated telephone equipment to call cellular telephones for the purpose of collecting debts owed to the United States government.
  • – Amends the Energy Policy Conservation Act to require the Department of Energy to notify Congress prior to any Strategic Petroleum Reserve test sale, with an exception for emergency drawdowns.
  • – Raises the single‐employer fixed premium payable to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to $68 for 2017, $73 for 2018, and $78 for 2019, and then re-indexes the premium for inflation.

And the list goes on…

We do you no service by reporting week over week what’s wrong, but we’re hoping to be part of the solution when Congress becomes transparent enough, and the problems become acute enough, that a genuine change in the behavior of Congress comes thanks to the demands of the public.

For now, the process just stinks!

Reconcile This!

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

healthThey say turnabout is fair play. Turnabout may be on the way.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, really passed as two different bills. First, there was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act itself (here is the vote), and then there were some more provisions passed in a reconciliation bill called the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the vote).

A “reconciliation” bill is a type of bill that has a bit of special sauce. When Congress passes a budget resolution, it may direct one or more committees to submit legislation that will change existing law in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt ceiling into conformity with the budget plan.

A reconciliation bill automatically gets limited debate in the Senate. That means it doesn’t have to pass a “cloture” vote, requiring a super-majority of 60 senators to approve ending debate on it. In other words, only a bare majority of senators have to approve a reconciliation bill for it to pass.

That’s how the finishing touches on Obamacare got through. And that’s how the bill to undo parts of Obamacare is proceeding now.

Last week, the House passed H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. Passage of the bill would cut out key elements of Obamcare, including the individual and employer mandates, the “Cadillac” tax on expensive health plans, and the medical device tax. It would also cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.

Odd that “reconciliation” would be some of the least conciliatory legislation that the House and Senate could pass.

veto billThose cut-backs in government programs “save” a little over $3,200 per U.S. family and reduce the national debt by just over $1,000 per U.S. family. But, of course, it cuts big chunks out of Obamacare, which might not be good for America. It depends on your opinion of government’s role in health care.

(We say the bill “saves” because it reduces taxes, which are a cost to taxpayers, and it reduces spending, which we also treat as a “cost” to taxpayers. There is a greater reduction in spending than the reduction in revenues, so the result is a lower national debt.)

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it needs just a majority of votes to advance. Will it? That, as always, is up to you.

But really the question is academic because the bill would get a sure veto if it arrived at the president’s desk. It’s been clear for a long time that repeal of Obamacare will not happen while President Obama is in office, or a Democratic successor. It would be astounding if something close to a decade’s work did actually result in a repeal of Obamacare. We’ll be sticking around to see how things come out.

Here’s the current vote on H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

The First Continuing Resolution

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

delayed trainsThat confusing Congress did its confusing work last week and passed a continuing resolution that funds the government until December 11th.

The law that provides that funding, spending some $11,000 per U.S. family, is Public Law 114-53, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015.

And that’s what the law is actually called. They didn’t manage to name it the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016″ or something. The law that funds the government for the first two months of fiscal 2016 is “TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015.”

It’s not quite as bad as the “The ______Act of____,” a law that Congress passed in 2010 without taking enough time to give it a name. But when Congress attached the language that funds the government to the TSA bill, they didn’t rename it to something that indicates the important thing that it does. That’s just how hasty and careless Congress is.

Now, this is the first continuing resolution of fiscal 2016, because Congress is very likely to do another and another, and maybe a couple more, before it finally passes an omnibus spending bill that takes care of the government’s funding for the rest of the year.

Instead of a dozen short-term spending bills, Congress should be passing a dozen regular spending bills in the summer. That’s how this process is supposed to work. But Congress delays those bills so much that it has to do these last-minute bills, which the public gets no chance to review.

We’re working on some changes around WashingtonWatch.com, and we’re hoping that we’ll soon be able to organize people around the project of getting Congress to follow ordinary procedures when it does its annual budgeting and spending. Both parties have been unable to run the trains on time, and it doesn’t push policy one way or another for the process to be open and responsibly run, so it’s a non-partisan project.

Feel free any time, though, to contact your member of Congress, and tell your friends and neighbors to do the same. Right now, we are basically spectators, and we don’t want to be. We want them to introduce and pass spending bills according to the schedule so that we, the public, can follow along.

Here’s the current vote on Public Law 114-53, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015, which happens to include funding for two-and-a-half months of federal government.

That Confusing Congress and Its Last-Minute Spending

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

John BoehnerYou’d think Congress was purposefully trying to keep you from following along. Well, that’s just a special benefit to Congress and its leaders from its horribly confused and confusing procedures.

This week, you’ll have to chase some “legislative vehicles” to see what Congress is doing.

As followers of this blog know, Congress didn’t pass the annual spending bills on time. Those bills are already a little tough to track, but they’re relatively easy compared to what Congress has cooked up now.

Currently, two different overall spending plans for fiscal 2016 have been proposed, but they’re amendments to other bills rather than freestanding bills themselves. These “legislative vehicles” are H.J. Res. 61, the Hire More Heroes Act of 2015, and H.R. 719, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015.

The first one, H.J. Res. 61, started life as a bill to amend the tax code to exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being counted for purposes of determining which employers are subject to Obamacare’s employer mandate. It passed the House in late July.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took up the bill and proposed as an amendment a “continuing resolution” that funds the government until December 11th. Doing that under McConnell’s terms would spend $11,074.04 per U.S. family.

The other legislative vehicle is H.R. 719. It started life as a bill to require the Transportation Security Administration to conform to existing laws and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions. All well and good—it passed the House in February. The Senate then passed it with an amendment, and the House passed it with another amendment along the same lines last week.

Well, Senator McConnell took that bill up, and he proposed an amendment to it that is another, slightly different continuing resolution. This one spends $11,075.65 per family.

(These numbers are the total amount of spending, discounted due to the fact that it will occur next fiscal year, then divided by the number of families in the United States. The numbers are not necessarily exact. The cost differences between the two bills show that the latter bill spends just a few million more than the former.)

At this late date, it appears that Congress will almost certainly pass a continuing resolution along the lines of what Senator McConnell has put forward. It will probably keep the government running until December 11th. And it will probably continue to fund Planned Parenthood.

Also, goodbye and good wishes, Speaker Boehner (R-OH). He announced his retirement from the leadership and the House last week.

Summer’s Over: It’s Spending Time

Monday, September 7th, 2015

stack-of-moneyCongress failed—utterly failed—to pass annual spending bills on time this year. That means that it will have to allocate 2016 spending by the beginning of the fiscal year October 1st.

It will probably pass a “CR,” or continuing resolution. That’s a bill that continues spending at prior-year levels with tweaks here and there. Where? Mind your business, mere American.

This failed process is terrible for democratic oversight, which is to say, you and me getting a say in what Congress puts together.

There is a way to assign blame. You look and see who is in charge of the House and Senate, see whether they passed bills in their respective houses, how well they negotiated with each other, and how well they negotiated final bills with the president.

That math is pretty simple in this case, as the Republicans control the House and Senate. The House passed some bills and the Senate passed none. That means there were no compromises to hammer out between the two, much less negotiations with the president. The Republicans flatly failed to run the appropriations trains on time.

It could be that Republican leaders think they’re better off passing CRs year over year, because open spending debates skew in Democrats’ bigger-spending direction. But there’s a better way to control budgets: Make the Congress more transparent so that the public can participate in these debates. If they actually want less government, they’ll demand it from their legislators, Republican or Democrat.

Rant over.

Here’s a look at the status of the annual spending bills and the process that Congress should have completed. You can see how far they got, and didn’t get.

Watch this space as a small group of congressional leaders and the president decide on spending for Fiscal Year 2016, without the rank and file congressional membership having a say, and certainly without the rest of us.

Spending Bill
House Bill
Senate Bill
Final Votes
Public Law
Vote (Y-N)
Vote (Y-N)
House (Y-N)
Senate (Y-N)
Budget Resolution
President does not sign
242 – 183
278 – 149
Energy & Water
Financial Services
Homeland Security
Interior and Environment
Labor/HHS/Education $8,359
Legislative Branch
State/Foreign Operations

* Cost per average-sized U.S. family; amounts are approximate; changes in interest rates alter net present value calculation

You’ve Been Had

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

That Donald Trump is sure a piece of work. The thing with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly? Wow. The Republican party leadership doesn’t want him there, but how do they get rid of him without inducing a third-party run? That would sap Republican votes.

It’s a good time to be a Democrat. (Shhhh. Don’t interrupt while Trump is messing things up for the other team!) But do we really want a Hillary coronation? #FeelTheBern! Has the Democratic party scheduled enough debates to give other candidates a chance?

If these topics are where you’re focused, you’ve been had. You’ve let politics distract you from the business of government.

While you’re watching the political drama around a presidential election that won’t happen for another fifteen months, you’re ignoring Congress’s mismanagement of the U.S. federal government right now. You’re treating politics as a spectator sport when you should be treating governance as a participatory sport.

You see, Congress is supposed to pass appropriations bills each summer, allocating spending for the next fiscal year, which begins in October. When they don’t do this, agencies can’t plan. They can’t move forward with projects. Your tax money gets wasted—no matter what you think of the projects the agencies would do.

With the House already on break, the Senate took off at the end of the week last week for its summer recess without a single FY 2016 appropriations bill having been passed. Not one.

Some in Congress recognize the need to act responsibly. In late July, the Senate Appropriations Committee put out a press release congratulating itself for passing all appropriations bills for the first time in six years. But the full Senate hasn’t acted on any of them. The House has passed a few bills, but Congress as a whole hasn’t completed work on anything.

What do you do about this? How do you get involved? Well, by this point in the FY 2016 appropriations cycle, it’s pretty much too late. When Congress returns in September, there will be just a few legislative days before the beginning of the new fiscal year.

But you can let your member of Congress and senators know that you are displeased. You can contact them and say that you expect appropriations to be done on time. If your representatives are Republicans, you can let them know that you will not vote for a Republican next November if appropriations were not finalized on time.

Nothing changes if you do nothing. Something might change if you do something. So contact your member of Congress, and encourage your friends and co-workers to do the same!

Thousand-Dollar Bills

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

US-$1000In August, Congress takes an extended recess. The House schedule includes just twelve work days in September. Including the next two weeks, that means there are just twenty congressional work days until the beginning of the 2016 fiscal year. And Congress hasn’t passed a single appropriations bill yet.

But a couple more were introduced last week. The House and Senate both saw introduction of the agriculture appropriations bill.

Let’s take a look and get an idea of what Congress would do if it followed the regular appropriations process with respect to funding agriculture programs, which it appears destined not to do again this year.

They’re thousand-dollar bills, which is to say they spend a little over $1,000 per U.S. family.

H.R. 3049 is the House’s version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016. It proposes spending of a little over $1,300 per U.S. family on all the agencies within the jurisdiction of the bill.

According to the House Appropriations Committee’s website, the money goes to a short list of agencies:

Department of Agriculture (except Forest Service)
Farm Credit Administration
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Food and Drug Administration (HHS)

S. 1800 is the Senate version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has a much more detailed list of agencies that the Ag Approps bill funds, but the coverage of the two is about the same. This list can give you a pretty good idea of all the things this particular part of the government does.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, except Forest Service
Agricultural Credit Insurance Fund (USDA)
Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA)
Agricultural Research Service (USDA)
Buildings and Facilities (USDA)
Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments (USDA)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA)
Buildings and Facilities (USDA)
Child Nutrition Programs (USDA)
Commodity Assistance Program (USDA)
Commodity Credit Corporation (USDA)
Common Computing Environment (USDA)
Conservation Operations (USDA)
Dairy Indemnity Program (USDA)
Departmental Administration (USDA)
Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (USDA)
Economic Research Service (USDA)
Emergency Conservation Program (USDA)
Export Loans Program (USDA)
Farm Credit Administration
Farm Labor Housing Program
Farm Service Agency (USDA)
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (USDA)
Food and Drug Administration (HHS)
Food and Drug Administration Buildings and Facilities (HHS)
Food and Nutrition Service (USDA)
Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA)
Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA)
Funds for Strengthening Markets, Income, and Supply (section 32) (USDA)
General Sales Manager (USDA)
Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (USDA)
Hazardous Materials Management (USDA)
Inspection and Weighing Services (USDA)
Mutual and Self-Help Housing Grants (USDA)
National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA)
National Appeals Division (USDA)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture [NIFA] (USDA)
Native American Institutions Endowment Fund (USDA)
Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)
Nutrition Program Administration (USDA)
Office of Budget and Program Analysis (USDA)
Office of Communications (USDA)
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration (USDA)
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations (USDA)
Office of the Chief Economist (USDA)
Office of the Chief Financial Officer (USDA)
Office of the Chief Information Officer (USDA)
Office of the General Counsel (USDA)
Office of the Inspector General (USDA)
Office of the Secretary (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (USDA)
Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development (USDA)
Operations and Maintenance for Hazardous Waste Management (USDA)
Outreach for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers (USDA)
Public Law 480 Program (USDA)
Reimbursement for Net Realized Losses (USDA)
Rental Assistance Program (USDA)
Resource Conservation and Development (USDA)
Risk Management Agency (USDA)
Rural Business-Cooperative Service (USDA)
Rural Community Advancement Program (USDA)
Rural Cooperative Development Grants (USDA)
Rural Development Loan Fund (USDA)
Rural Development Salaries and Expenses (USDA)
Rural Economic Development Grants (USDA)
Rural Economic Development Loans (USDA)
Rural Electrification and Telecommunications Loans Program (USDA)
Rural Housing Assistance Grants (USDA)
Rural Housing Insurance Fund (USDA)
Rural Housing Service (USDA)
Rural Telephone Bank (USDA)
Rural Utilities Service (USDA)
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC] (USDA)
State Mediation Grants (USDA)
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (USDA)
Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations (USDA)
Watershed Surveys and Planning (USDA)

Should the government spend all of that money on these things? That is up to you. We don’t have the kind of data we need from the government to do a good job letting you pick and choose among all of these different things, so you’re left with the gross decision about spending in the whole bill: Too much? Too little? Or just right?

Here’s the current voting on H.R. 3049 and S. 1800, both known as the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki articles on the bills.

The Latest Spending Bills

Monday, July 13th, 2015

moneySpending season continues with the introduction of more new bills last week.

Let’s take a look at the agencies they fund in detail.

S. 1725 is the State Department/foreign operations bill introduced in the Senate. It proposes spending of about $435 per U.S. family on these agencies and programs:

Agency for International Development
Department of State
Department of the Treasury
– Debt Restructuring
– International Affairs Technical Assistance
– International Financial Institutions
Export-Import Bank
Millennium Challenge Program
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Peace Corps
Trade and Development Agency
Related Programs and Agencies:
– African Development Foundation
– Broadcasting Board of Governors
– Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund
– Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
– Commission on International Religious Freedom
– Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
– Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China
– East-West Center
– Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Program
– Inter-American Foundation
– Israeli Arab Scholarship Program
– National Endowment for Democracy
– The Asia Foundation
– United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission
– United States Institute of Peace

Here’s the current vote on the bill among WashingtonWatch.com visitors.

Next up is H.R. 2995, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2016. Spending: just over $400 per U.S. family.

The following agencies and programs come under that bill.

Department of the Treasury (except Debt Restructuring, International Affairs Technical Assistance, and International Financial Institutions)
District of Columbia
The Judiciary
Executive Office of the President (except Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of the United States Trade Representative, and Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Environmental Quality)
Independent Agencies
– Administrative Conference of the United States
– Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation
– Consumer Product Safety Commission
– Election Assistance Commission
– Federal Communications Commission
– Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Inspector General
– Federal Election Commission
– Federal Labor Relations Authority
– Federal Trade Commission
– General Services Administration
– Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
– Merit Systems Protection Board
– Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
– National Archives and Records Administration
– National Credit Union Administration
– Office of Government Ethics
– Office of Personnel Management and Related Trust Funds
– Office of Special Counsel
– Postal Regulatory Commission
– Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
– Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board
– Securities and Exchange Commission
– Selective Service System
– Small Business Administration
– United States Postal Service, Payment to the Postal Service Fund
– United States Tax Court
General Provisions, Government-wide

The current vote:

Finally, there’s H.R. 3020, the House Labor/HHS spending bill. (We talked about the Senate version of the bill a few weeks ago.) It would spend just about $8,350 per U.S. family on these agencies and entities:

Department of Education
Department of Health and Human Services (Except Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Food and Drug Administration; Indian Health Services and Facilities; and National Institute of Environmental Sciences (formerly EPA/Superfund))
Department of Labor
Related Agencies
– Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled
– Corporation for National and Community Service
– Corporation for Public Broadcasting
– Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
– Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
– Institute of Museum and Library Services
– Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
– Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
– National Council on Disability
– National Labor Relations Board
– National Mediation Board
– Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
– Railroad Retirement Board
– Social Security Administration

And here’s how the WashingtonWatch.com voting is going.

A Big Week! … for Spending

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

money-fallingPresident Obama eulogized the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine people shot and killed by a racist terrorist during Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. The Supreme Court saved Obamacare from a legal challenge that would have undercut the tax and subsidy scheme that are a linchpin of the law. And the Court recognized a right of gay people to marry. It was a big week! … for spending.

That’s because one of the biggest spending bills of the year was introduced. That’s the Labor/HHS spending bill, S. 1695, in the Senate. There isn’t a House bill yet.

The Senate bill proposes spending of about $8,300 per family. That’s about $890 billion, if you like big numbers.

It’s not just the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services funded by the bill. Take a look at all the government offices:

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health and Human Services (Except Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Food and Drug Administration; Indian Health Services and Facilities; and National Institute of Environmental Sciences (formerly EPA/Superfund))
  • Department of Labor
  • Related Agencies:
    – Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled
    – Corporation for National and Community Service
    – Corporation for Public Broadcasting
    – Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
    – Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
    – Institute of Museum and Library Services
    – Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
    – Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
    – National Council on Disability
    – National Labor Relations Board
    – National Mediation Board
    – Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
    – Railroad Retirement Board
    – Social Security Administration

The big cost items, of course, are Medicare and Social Security. They make Labor/HHS much bigger than the next largest annual spending bill, the Department of Defense appropriations bill. The Senate version is S. 1558, and it spends a little over $5,000 per family. The House bill, H.R. 2685, spends about the same amount.

It was a big week for spending! Everything about the Labor/HHS bill is big.

Here’s the current vote on the Labor/HHS spending bill. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article about the bill.