Home

Blog

Recently Visited

  • Getting bills...

Archive for the ‘Appropriations/Budget’ Category

So, WHAT Happened with DHS Funding?!

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

DHSIf you didn’t stay up late on Friday night following the unfolding drama around Department of Homeland Security spending, congratulations! You’re normal!

Republicans’ strong objections to the president’s recent immigration actions will come back in a week, though, so let’s get you updated on the goings-on so far.

Just after the election last November, President Obama announced a number of immigration policies that were strongly criticized by Republicans in Congress. The policies would allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the country.

Fiscal year 2015 spending was under consideration at the time, and instead of including full-year DHS spending in the “CRomnibus” spending bill for 2015, Congress included short-term DHS spending in the bill.

That short term came to an end on Friday, but Congress and the president had not quite agreed on what to do.

H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015, was the main bill under discussion. It passed the House—denying funds to implement the president’s policies—back in January. The Senate took up the bill last week, but couldn’t agree to the House’s version.

Instead, the Senate passed a version of the bill that fully funds the immigration policies, and it tried to move a bill that would revise the immigration policy so as not to affect “dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. illegally who are now socially and economically integrated into the United States. (We’ll come back to that bill.)

Meanwhile, the House took up H.J. Res. 35, which would have funded DHS until March 19th. That bill didn’t pass.

So Congress went to a fallback. The Senate took up H.R. 33, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act, which passed the House earlier in the year, and popped in language to fund the DHS until next Friday.

A few hours before midnight on Friday, the House passed that bill, and the debate was over—for the weekend, at least. Congress will be back to this debate promptly

Now, coming back to the Senate bill that would revise the immigration policies a little bit. That’s S. 534, the Immigration Rule of Law Act of 2015. S. 534 got a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office last week. Interesting stuff!

Once again denying parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to request deferred action and employment authorization would save about $250 per family, while increasing each family’s share of the national debt by about $51.91. Be careful to understand what those numbers mean! (Check “Read an Analysis of the Bill” in the “Learn More” box.)

S. 534 would reduce tax collections by about $19 billion over 10 years. Most of that would be Social Security taxes not being paid by legalized workers, so it’s probably not a saving to your family (unless, of course, you’re an illegal immigrant). The bill would reduce spending by about $12.5 billion per year. That’s a smaller drop in spending than the drop in revenues, so the national debt rises.

If you’re clear on all that, you’re ready for the coming week’s debate on how to fund the Department of Homeland Security! Comment here or on any of the bills, and pat yourself on the back for following along, even if you didn’t spend your Friday night on it.

We Begin Again

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

budget_processLast Monday, an annual process began that is the least covered in the mainstream media of any national political story, at least relative to its importance to taxpayers. That’s the introduction of the president’s budget proposal. The first Monday in February is the deadline for submitting a budget to Congress. The president met it this time.

Yes, there was news reporting here and there. Most of it, though, was about policy details. You’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere but here on WashingtonWatch.com that the budget proposes spending of about $37,000 per U.S. family in the United States. That’s enough for every family to buy itself a new car.

That money will go to priorities set in Washington, D.C. Some of those priorities are the right ones—essential, even—and some are probably wrong from your perspective. The job is to figure out which are what, and to act on that.

You’re not too late to do something about budgeting and spending. The process has just gotten underway.

The next step is for each house of Congress to debate their own budget resolutions, combining them into a final congressional budget resolution. The deadline for that to happen is April 15th.

In recent years, Congress has often not completed a budget resolution. Perhaps that’s explained by division of the House and Senate between parties. Perhaps it’s explained by neglect. Neither is a good reason, and the first one has gone away, as the House and Senate are both in Republican control. It’s fair to expect the leaders of the same party to agree on a budget for the federal government.

So why not start your involvement in the budgeting and spending debate this year by letting your representatives in Congress know that you’re watching? This is as good a time as ever to contact your representative in the House and your two senators and tell them that you expect there to be a final congressional budget resolution by the April 15 deadline.

You can let them know your general spending preferences, too, of course. More spending overall? Less? More money to the military? More to needy families? Now is the time to talk about it.

This initial communication shouldn’t be the last they hear from you. Once a budget resolution is finalized, Congress allocates gross amounts to the appropriations subcommittees for the spending that each of them covers: Homeland Security, Labor/Health and Human Services, etc. Those subcommittees will then debate and pass individual bills that allocate spending. That’s another good time to oversee their work. Their bills are long, but it is possible to read them and discern where the money is going.

You’ll want to call or write again then to say “yay” or “nay” on various spending items. See what your representative does in response. Will you get a form letter? Or will your representatives introduce or vote on an amendment that does what you want.

Frankly, they’re unused to hearing from Americans who know what they’re talking about, so they won’t be ready for you. So be patient but insistent.

Are you ready? The budget process for the 2016 fiscal year is getting underway, and you can be a part of it.

$11,212.61

Monday, December 15th, 2014

money-fallingOver $11,000 per U.S. family is the amount Congress spent in the CRomnibus, which passed over the weekend. We’ll recap exactly what happened procedurally, then let’s have a talk.

Back in September, having failed to move the annual spending bills on time, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government into December. Not much more happened (that we could see) until mid-week last week when congressional leaders popped out the bill they thought should fund the government for the rest of the year.

Nobody knew exactly what was in the “CRomnibus,” and when the details began to come out, some members of Congress balked. So the leadership found themselves unable to pass it as written. They needed a couple more days for dealmaking, so on Thursday last week they passed a small, two-day continuing resolution.

A little more tweaking—and a lot more arguing and game-playing—produced a final CRomnibus, which the Congress passed and sent to the president Saturday. You can see the votes on final passage here: House, Senate. (Our cost estimate is produced by taking the total amount of spending in the bill and dividing it by the number of households in the United States.)

But let’s talk.

There’s not much point in knowing the final votes on the CRominbus, because the question it presented didn’t call for a simple right-or-wrong answer. Should the government have shut down while all the tweaks and goodies snuck into the bill got debated? There’s plenty wrong with the bill from all perspectives, but shutting down the government isn’t very responsible. And you can’t just root for your team: The yeas and nays didn’t break down along party lines.

The CRomnibus or some similar disaster was almost inevitable when Congress didn’t pass the annual spending bills on time. Following the regular process would have allowed at least some public oversight. Congress and the public would have confronted many decisions for which people like you do have a right answer. Should money go to school lunches, strengthening the military, or back to taxpayers? (Much can be done to make these questions clearer to you when they happen.)

If Congress had followed the regular process, it would have allowed you to vote in November based on what happened in the summer and fall. But Congress collectively shunted responsibility by failing to follow the regular schedule, insulating itself from your oversight.

Think of yourself as a baseball fan outside the stadium. You can hear the roar of the crowd when things happen, but you don’t know what’s going on until word filters out to you from other folks who have a radio or a line to someone inside. You never get to see the balls and strikes, the foul balls and fly balls. You never get to see the actual game.

The most civic-minded of us stay outside the stadium, trying intently to follow along. But most people wander away from the stadium because following a game that you can’t see is a really frustrating waste of time.

How do we get inside? So far, not enough people are demanding to be let inside, willing to storm the gates. As we’ve written here before, it’s on you to insist that Congress follow the regular schedule, letting you inside the stadium. Your lacking oversight last summer allowed the CRomnibus to happen last week.

Very soon, the budget process for fiscal year 2016 will start. There’s a schedule it’s supposed to follow, and the American people could put pressure on Congress to follow that schedule. Chances of that happening are slim, though, because there isn’t a cadre of people—a brigade—that is informed enough and attentive enough to insist on good behavior from Congress all year long. If enough people had the information they need and the capacity to do something with that information, our democracy would function much better.

Here’s hoping that someone combines enough legislative information with networking tools that allow people to take intelligent action. And here’s hoping that happens well before next year’s CRomnibus!

CRomnibus = Awful

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

cronutIt’s awful, this “CRomnibus” thing. For at least two reasons.

One is the name. The bill is a combination “CR,” or continuing resolution (which generally extends spending at current levels), and an omnibus, which combines all of the annual spending bills into one.

Put the two together, and what do you get? “CRomnibus.” Awful.

The CR part is Department of Homeland Security spending, which would be extended into March. Between now and then, Republicans will think of some way to respond to President Obama’s recent immigration policy, implemented through Citizenship and Immigration Services, a part of DHS. They haven’t got one now, as we noted last week.

Then, there’s the omnibus. All the rest of the government will be funded in one giant bill that carries through until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2015.

What’s the other thing wrong with the CRomnibus? We don’t know what’s in it. We don’t even have a bill number.

Instead of FY 2015 spending getting debated throughout the summer, Congress will once again deal with it all at once well into the fiscal year. We don’t have a bill number, and we certainly don’t have bill text to look at. That’s an attack on our democracy, because it reduces the already small opportunity ordinary Americans have to influence the outcome.

We’re often harping on breakdowns in the spending process. You can see past work on that here. We do so because government spending is important. It’s an expression of our national values. As such, it should be an expression of your values. But far too often you’re excluded from the process, as you will be this week when Congress passes a “CRomnibus.”

There Won’t Be Any Defunding of President Obama’s Immigration Order

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Immigration-reform-supporters-jpgHow fascinating that many Americans’ focus is on using failure in the spending process to score a win against President Obama rather than … failure in the spending process. It’s all part of America’s dysfunctional government and dysfunctional politics. (Which came first?)

The theory was at least a theory: With President Obama moving to shield potentially five million illegal immigrants from deportation, Republicans opposing the move could respond by denying funds to Citizenship and Immigration Services for carrying out President Obama’s instructions.

The reason why Congress could handily block spending on this in December was because Congress didn’t pass any regular appropriations bills for the 2015 fiscal year on time, and the temporary funding measure they passed instead expires in early December.

Congress has the power of the purse. If it declines to spend money on something—even something the law allows, like President Obama’s executive immigration action—that thing can’t happen. All that’s required is for Congress to defund President Obama’s order.

It turns out they can’t. Congress gave away the power of the purse.

You see, Citizenship and Immigration Services is largely funded by fees. Changing CIS’s fee-charging ability would require an amendment to its authorizing law, which is generally not something that can be included in a spending bill.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has suggested that Congress actually can prevent spending to implement President Obama’s executive order, and he also says that a report from the Congressional Research Service backs him up. But a news story that quotes from the report signals that it is not a slam dunk at all. Congress would have to amend the underlying law that tells CIS what it can and cannot do.

There’s a little bit of irony in this. Congress has moved to fees because that’s a system that tends to control budgets. A fully fee-funded agency won’t add to annual deficits or the national debt. But a fully fee-funded agency also doesn’t answer to Congress. A nominal cost-control measure that Congress put in place some years ago ended up giving more authority to the executive branch. That authority the president is now using to make his mark on U.S. immigration policy.

Given the hot tempers around illegal immigration and the president’s recent action, many have forgotten to notice what’s going on in the background: Congress’s failure to execute on its annual spending obligations. Perhaps it’s best that Congress can’t exploit its own failure to score one against the president this time.

They’re Baaaaack!

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

pile-of-moneyThe mid-term election is behind us, and it was a Republican rout, but that doesn’t matter until the new, 114th Congress starts in January. Between now and then, the old Congress is going to pass a spending bill for the rest of fiscal year 2015.

You know the drill. Congress is supposed to finalize regular appropriations bills in the summer, but they never do. So they end up passing temporary spending bills in the fall.

Coincidentally, this allows them to avoid difficult votes on spending ahead of elections. They do the bulk of the spending after the election, when there’s nearly two years between controversial votes and the accountability that comes from elections.

This year, House Joint Resolution 124, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 was the bill that Congress used to kick over the spending issues. Congress passed it and the president signed it, making it Public Law 113-164. It spent about $11,300 per U.S. family to run the government until December 11th.

December 10th is 72 days into the fiscal year, so Congress has another 294 days to fund. At the spending rate in Public Law 113-164, that means about $46,800 more.

We don’t know what the bill will be, but Congress returns for a lame-duck session this week. By December, they’ll probably do a spending deal for the rest of the fiscal year. Or they’ll do another short-term deal to kick things over to the new Congress.

It’s no time to stop watching Washington.

Congress returns this coming week to begin the post-election, lame-duck session.

We Have a CR!

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

continuing resolutionDemocrats and Republicans don’t feel like fighting about spending this year—they’re going into the mid-term election, and the risks are too high—so Congress quickly agreed on a CR last week. It has been sent to the president’s desk and he’ll soon sign it.

As regular readers of this blog know, Congress is supposed to pass appropriations bills for the coming fiscal year during they summer. The October 1 start of the fiscal year comes quickly, and once again Congress didn’t do its work timely during the year. Thus, an executive process had to occur. Spending for the 2015 fiscal year hasn’t had the relatively open debate that would happen if a series of spending bills were brought to the floor of the House and Senate.

Instead, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) introduced a “continuing resolution” on September 9th. A continuing resolution continues spending generally at preexisting levels so that the government can continue operating.

H.J. Res. 124 is the bill, and it’s called “the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015.”

It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee and the House Budget Committee, neither of which did any hearings or other work that provides meaningful public exposure to the bill. The original version of the continuing resolution spent $11,396.17 per U.S. family.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations evidently proved fruitful because, over the course of three days last week, the bill moved through Congress—passing both the House and Senate with relatively little public notice.

The CR was amended along the way. The new version spends a bit less—$11,289.22 per U.S. family is the bill for running the government until December 11th. It also includes language that authorizes the arming and training of Syrian rebels.

That December 11th date means that Congress will have to return after the November election and make spending decisions for the rest of the year. It’s a lot easier to make spending decisions after an election, when it’s two years before your constituents can really let you know what they think of the results. That’s just the Congress cutting another tendon in our democratic system.

But there you have it. We have a CR!

You Don’t Get to See the Important Work

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Congress is back from its summer recess, and it has an aggressive schedule this week. None of the many bills up for consideration deal with the big issue though: federal spending in fiscal 2015.

The new fiscal year starts October 1st, and Congress hasn’t passed a single one of the annual spending bills.

Most likely, sometime between now and the end of the month, congressional leaders will produce a “continuing resolution.” That is, they will continue spending at current levels, with tweaks here and there, for some weeks or months while they hammer out real plans for next year.

Kitchen SinkThat’s not how it’s supposed to be. Congress is supposed to pass spending bills during the summer. Doing so allows agencies to plan, and it makes your participation in spending decisions more possible. But it’s gotten to be Congress’s habit to not finish its work, handing the spending power to a small group of congressional leaders at the last minute.

So, instead of the continuing resolution, the terms of which we know nothing about, here are all the bills the House will be debating this week (along with their sponsor, the House committee that considered them, and their costs, where available).

Keep yourself busy on these, as you don’t get to see the most important work.

S. 231, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization (Sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 4939, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2551 Galena Avenue in Simi Valley, California, as the “Neil Havens Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 4651, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 601 West Baker Road in Baytown, Texas as the “Specialist Keith Erin Grace Jr. Memorial Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 2819, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 275 Front Street in Marietta, Ohio, as the “Veterans Memorial Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 5089, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2000 Mulford Road in Mulberry, Florida, as the “Sergeant First Class Daniel M. Ferguson Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 2678, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10360 Southwest 186th Street in Miami, Florida, as the “Larcenia J. Bullard Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 5019, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1335 Jefferson Road in Rochester, New York, as the “Specialist Theodore Matthew Glende Post Office” (Sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 4443, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 90 Vermilyea Avenue, in New York, New York, as the “Corporal Juan Mariel Alcantara Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 3957, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 218-10 Merrick Boulevard in Springfield Gardens, New York, as the “Cynthia Jenkins Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 78, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4110 Almeda Road in Houston, Texas, as the “George Thomas ‘Mickey’ Leland Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 4189, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4000 Leap Road in Hilliard, Ohio, as the “Master Sergeant Shawn T. Hannon and Master Sergeant Jeffrey J. Rieck and Veterans Memorial Post Office Building”, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 5030, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 13500 SW 250 Street in Princeton, Florida, as the “Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 5106, Designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 100 Admiral Callaghan Lane in Vallejo, California, as the “Philmore Graham Post Office Building” (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) / Oversight and Government Reform Committee)

H.R. 2495, American Super Computing Leadership Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) / Science Committee)

H.R. 5309, Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) / Science Committee)

H.R. 744, Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) / Judiciary Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 3109, To amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to exempt certain Alaskan Native articles from prohibitions against sale of items containing nonedible migratory bird parts (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) / Natural Resources Committee) – saves $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 4283, To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to maintain or replace certain facilities and structures for commercial recreation services at Smith Gulch in Idaho (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) / Natural Resources Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.J. Res. 120 – Approving the location of a memorial to commemorate the more than 5,000 slaves and free Black persons who fought for independence in the American Revolution (Sponsored by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) / Natural Resources Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 4527, To remove a use restriction on land formerly a part of Acadia National Park that was transferred to the town of Tremont, Maine (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) / Natural Resources Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 4751, To make technical corrections to Public Law 110‐229 to reflect the renaming of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (Sponsored by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) / Natural Resources Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 5057, EPS Service Parts Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.06 per U.S. family

S. 276, A bill to reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the American Falls Reservoir (Sponsored by Sen. James Risch (R-ID) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 5161, The E-LABEL Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 4067, To provide for the extension of the enforcement instruction on supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in critical access and small rural hospitals through 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 4701, The Vector-Borne Disease Research Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $2.90 per U.S. family

H.R. 4290, The Wakefield Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $1.12 per U.S. family

H.R. 3670, Anti-Spoofing Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 669, Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) / Energy and Commerce Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H.R. 5078, The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) – costs $0.00 per U.S. family

H. Res. 644, Condemning and disapproving of the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing the Taliban 5 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) / Armed Services Committee)

H.R. 3522, The Employee Health Care Protection Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) / Energy and Commerce Committee / Ways and Means Committee)

Time for YOU to do Some Lobbying

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

handshakeCongress is on its summer recess. That means House members and senators are home meeting with constituents, kissing babies, and doing what they do.

Policymaking doesn’t stop during August, though. In fact, this is when the organized interests really turn it up.

No longer is it Washington lobbyists leaning on our representatives in Congress. The home-town side is doing that work. Business leaders, hospital officials, union members, and lots of other interests are going into congressional offices and making the pitch for what they want from federal policymakers.

So why don’t you do it, too?

Whatever you care about, this is the time to call your congressman at the home office and give him or her a piece of your mind.

If you haven’t got an issue you want to talk about already, how about the annual spending process?

The new fiscal year starts October 1st. That means that Congress, when it returns, has only the month of September to get the spending plan completed. So far, no appropriations bill for fiscal 2015 have passed.

What’s the message you want to take to your representative? How about: “Hey! Finish the spending bills on time!”

But if you want, you can be even more specific. Below is a list of the currently pending appropriations bills and how much they spend. Maybe you can say you want more money spent in some areas and less spent in others.

It’s the summer time—a great time to be your own lobbyist.

Agriculture Appropriations
H.R. 4800 – spends $1,217 per U.S. family
S. 2389 – spends $1,216 per U.S. family

Commerce/Justice/Science Appropriations
H.R. 4660 – spends $584 per U.S. family
S. 2437 – spends $584 per U.S. family

Defense Appropriations
H.R. 4870 – spends $5,259 per U.S. family

Energy & Water Appropriations
H.R. 4923 – spends $357 per U.S. family

Financial Services Appropriations
H.R. 5016 – spends $417 per U.S. family

Homeland Security Appropriations
H.R. 4903 – spends $437 per U.S. family
S. 2534 – spends $436 per U.S. family

Interior & Environment Appropriations
H.R. 5171 – spends $309 per U.S. family

Legislative Branch Appropriations
H.R. 4487 – spends $34 per U.S. family

Military/Veterans Appropriations
H.R. 4486 – spends $1,520 per U.S. family

State/Foreign Operations Appropriations
H.R. 5013 – spends $426 per U.S. family
S. 2499 – spends $437 per U.S. family

Transportation/HUD Appropriations
H.R. 4745 – spends $1,119 per U.S. family
S. 2438 – spends $1,126 per U.S. family

Money Moves

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

spending moneyCongress has begun its August recess. Let’s take a look at some bills that it recently advanced. New cost estimates change the amount of money they would cause to be spent. It’s your money, so pay attention!

H.R. 5230 is a supplemental spending bill. It’s called the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2014, but it’s known as the “Secure the Southwest Border Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2014.” It’s the House of Representatives’ response to the crisis at the United States’ southern border, which is seeing an influx of unaccompanied Central American children.

The bill is the brainchild of House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY).

When it was introduced, the bill contained total spending of $239,000,000. That was to come as $25,000,000 spent in fiscal 2014, over half-a-billion in 2015, and then reductions in spending over the ensuing years. The result was that H.R. 5230 would cost $2.59 per U.S. family.

The version that passed the House was slightly different. The new version spends $25,000,000 in fiscal 2014, a whopping $561,000,000 in 2015, but then cuts spending even more in future years, for a grand total of $241,000,000 in spending. That reduction in spending means that the bill would cost the average U.S. family $2.58 — one penny less than the earlier version.

The bill goes to the Senate now, where a very different bill is pending. S. 2648 is Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) spending bill aimed at the border crisis. We’ll see if the House and Senate can get together on a bill when they return in September.

Speaking of getting together on a bill, the House and Senate have come together on H.J. Res. 76. The bill started its life as the National Nuclear Security Administration Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2014. Introduced by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), it was one of the miniature spending bills the House used tactically in its stand-off with the Senate over the annual spending bills last year. That version of the bill promised to spend about $7 billion, or $68 per U.S. family.

But it’s a different bill today. H.J. Res. 76 is now known as the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Resolution, 2014, and its purpose is to provide funding to Israel for the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Senator Mikulski’s bill addressing the southern border included money for Israel’s defense system, too.

The House and Senate may not see eye to eye on what to do at the southern border, but they do agree, apparently, about providing Israel funds it needs for protection from incoming missiles. Having passed both houses, H.J. Res. 76 was forwarded to the president, and he signed it into law last week. The new version spends about $225 million this year and next, a cost of $2.18 per U.S. family.

The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act and the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Resolution. What’s the emergency? Declaring a bill “emergency” allows Congress to get around spending limits it has tried to impose on itself.

Below you can see the current votes on these two bills. Click so you can vote yourself, add comments, edit the wiki articles, or learn more about the bills.