Skip to content

Advocacy at a Glance

May 10, 2019

No Budget Agreement: House Moves Forward, Senate Waits. Under “normal order” in the annual appropriations process, the House and Senate Budget Committees develop an early agreement on the total spending levels for the entirety of defense and non-defense discretionary spending. That topline spending number is known as the “302(a)” spending ceiling, and under normal order it is typically completed by the end of April. Once that agreement is reached, the Appropriations committees divvy up the 302(a) money, assigning a portion to each subcommittee. The subcommittee allocations are known as the “302(b) allocations”  and under normal order are typically determined in the May time frame.  Over the past several years, we have gotten used to the appropriations process not following the “normal order,” and this year is no different than the past several years.

Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the ceiling number for FY 20 would require a $70 billion cut to defense programs relative to FY 19 and $50 billion less to non-defense programs relative to FY 19.  It is widely understood that Congress will need to lift the caps, or face the prospect of massive spending cuts. The key issue being: to what levels will the caps be lifted? The resolution of that may take weeks or maybe even more time and could delay the entire appropriations process. For a deeper look at how that might play out, see this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

Regardless of the lack of resolution on the 302(a) and a 302(b) numbers, the House has chosen to move the appropriations process forward. They have created a 302(a) level that they would like to see adopted by Congress and then made 302(b) subcommittee allocations. Numbers are likely to be different in the final budget agreement and in Senate subcommittee allocations, but at least some of the hard work of program funding will be started. It is possible that the Senate may wait for a House/Senate agreement on budget ceilings before deciding on their own subcommittee allocations. This is subject to change, especially if it appears that a budget agreement is unlikely in the near term.

The House Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee Allocation Would Increase Spending Above the FY 19 Levels. As noted above, the numbers being used in the House appropriations process are meaningful, but have a high risk of revision as the House and Senate continue to negotiate budget numbers. Nonetheless, the House Ag/FDA allocation is $24.3 billion, a $700 million year-over-year increase. This is a 3% increase, comparable to the increase for defense, but less than a number of other subcommittees that were raised by 4% to 8%.

L-HHS and Defense Moving in the House, Ag/FDA Later in May or Early June. A key learning in the FY 19 process was that pairing the L-HHS and DOD funding bills made for smoother passage in Congress and was virtually veto-proof. Those two bills are now part of the first wave of funding bills in the House, along with the non-controversial Military Construction/VA and Legislative Branch bills. Ag/FDA may come up the week of May 13 (next week), but more likely the week of May 20 or in early June when the House returns from Memorial Day recess week.

Senate Minority Leader Schumer Advocates for Food Safety Funding. In a statement released by Sen. Chuck Schumer last week, he expressed support for $32 million for food safety funding that is included in the President’s FY 20 budget request. Half of this amount would be used to improve signal detection of foodborne illness and strengthen the FDA’s response to human and animal food contamination. The other half would be for improving food safety inspections using new technologies. He does not address other opportunities at CFSAN and CVM.  Taking a broader perspective, the Alliance requested that Congress appropriate $102 million for food safety programs. The text of the Alliance “ask” is here.

Comments are closed.