Yes, 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.