The FY 2013 appropriations process got underway this week in the House and elicited a veto threat from President Obama. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) developed a budget that exceeds the cuts enacted by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (otherwise known as the “debt ceiling deal”). The Hill reports that the White House announced Wednesday that barring a change to the GOP proposed spending levels, the President will veto their funding bills.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) has indicated he does not plan to bring a budget proposal to the Senate floor for a vote as the spending caps and allocations for the 12 different appropriations measures were predetermined by the Budget Control Act.
It is expected that House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will begin to consider appropriations bills in short order. The Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) bill will not be one of the first to be considered since it is notoriously controversial due to many competing priorities and limited funds.
The regular order budget and appropriations process first involves the development – and passage by House and Senate – of a budget proposal, which outlines overall spending by broad categories (e.g., defense, health). The Congressional budget does not require the signature of the President. Then, the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees in both the House and Senate receive their particular allocation; from there, each subcommittee decides specific line-item funding amounts for the departments, agencies, and programs under their respective jurisdiction. The bills are marked-up and passed at the subcommiittee and full committee levels and brought forward for full House/Senate consideration. Since the chambers typically pass very different bills, each of the 12 spending measures goes to a conference committeee where differences are worked out and a single, uniform measure is developed and then sent back to both the House and Senate for final passage. Once a spending bill is enacted by both chambers it is sent to the President for signature or veto. The annual appropriations process is supposed to be wrapped-up by September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. However, Congress typically misses this deadline. Given that this is an election year, it is expected that most – if not all – 12 appropriations bills will be on the growing list of matters to be considered during the lame-duck session.