March 12, 2021
With unified party control and the ability to advance a budget resolution, Congressional Democrats will be counting on the Appropriations Committees to complete their work before the end of the fiscal year for the first time in many years.
Much attention has been paid to the Appropriators in the last few weeks – particularly given discussions related to the return of earmarks. For the past several years, Members of Congress have only been able to make requests for programmatic increases in funding and specific language to be included in appropriations bills. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with their respective leaders in each chamber, have both stated that they intend to return the practice of earmarking in appropriations bills through Community Funding Projects.
These earmarks can only be for the benefit of units of government and nonprofit entities. Republicans have yet to say if they will participate in the process. Two meetings took place this week among House Republicans to discuss participating in the earmark process – one among House leadership and the second with the broader House Conference, with no final resolution. More discussions are forthcoming. As of now, Republican Conference Rules still prohibit House Republicans from earmarking.
Some Republican Senators have expressed openness or neutrality to restoring earmarks, however several senators have vocally opposed restoring the practice. This week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and several other members penned a letter to the appropriations committee strongly opposing any earmarking process. In the letter they state, “Nothing epitomizes what is wrong with Washington more than pork-barrel spending in the form of congressional earmarks.”
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee issued additional guidance on how the process will work. As previously stated, earmarks will be capped at 1% of discretionary spending and for-profit entities are prohibited from receiving earmarks. The House guidelines released this week reaffirmed these guidelines and stated that members would be limited to a maximum of only ten Community Project Funding requests among all appropriations bills; not all ten projects are guaranteed funding. However, programmatic requests and language requests in an appropriations bill do not count against their number of earmark requests.
To qualify for Community Project Funding, a project must have strong community support, which must be demonstrated through letters of support, such as letters from local officials or projects listed on state intended use plans.
Members have been informed that they can begin submitting requests starting March 29th and all requests will need to be submitted by the middle of April (a specific date was not stated). Several subcommittees have also listed their deadlines for submitting programmatic and language requests, which is differentiated from the Community Project Funding request deadlines. The following is a list of known deadlines.
|Subcommittee||Database Opens||Language Requests||Programmatic Requests|
|Agriculture||March 29th||April 15th by 6pm||April 15th by 6pm|
|CJS||March 29th||April 15th by 6pm||April 15th by 6pm|
|Defense||March 29th||TBD (late May)||TBD (late May)|
|Energy and Water||March 29th||April 14th by 6pm||TBD (late May)|
|FSGG||March 29th||April 16th by 6pm||April 16th by 6pm|
|Homeland Security||March 29th||April 16th by 6pm||April 16th by 6pm|
|Interior||March 29th||April 16th by 6pm||April 16th by 6pm|
|LHHSE||March 29th||April 14th by 6pm||April 14th by 6pm|
|Leg Branch||March 29th||April 15th by 6pm||April 15th by 6pm|
|MILCON-VA||March 29th||April 14th by 6pm||TBD (late May)|
|SFOPs||March 29th||April 14th by 6pm||April 14th by 6pm|
|T-HUD||March 29th||Not Yet Released||Not Yet Released|
House Appropriators have decided to limit the accounts which will accept Community Project Funding requests. Most Appropriations Subcommittees have identified their accounts, except for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, which is still to come. The following are the only subcommittee accounts that will be accepting Community Project Funding requests:
Commerce Justice Science Subcommittee
- Byrne Justice Assistance Grants
- COPS Technology and Equipment
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–Operations, Research, and Facilities
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration–Safety, Security and Mission Services
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee
- Federal land acquisitions through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (Note: The Subcommittee will accept requests for these community projects after the release of the full President’s budget.).
- Environmental Protection Agency State and Tribal Assistance Grants for certain water infrastructure projects.
- Certain State and Private Forestry projects within the U.S. Forest Service.
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee
- Department of Labor—Employment and Training Administration—Training and Employment Services
- Department of Health and Human Services—Health Resources and Services Administration—Program Management
- Department of Health and Human Services—Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—Health Surveillance and Program Support
- Department of Education—Innovation and Improvement
- Department of Education—Higher Education
Energy & Water Subcommittee
- Corps of Engineers:
- Mississippi River and Tributaries
- Operation and Maintenance
- Bureau of Reclamation:
- Water and Related Resources
Please click here for more specific instructions for submissions of Community Project Funding requests to the Energy & Water Subcommittee.
Please click here for a list of Energy & Water authorized projects (to be posted soon).
Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee
- Small Business Administration, Small Business Initiatives
- Under this option, Members may submit funding requests for Community Projects in support of small businesses, such as entrepreneur training, workforce development, counseling, research, and construction or acquisition of facilities. Project recipients must be other units of government or nonprofit organizations to be considered eligible.
- Examples of the differences in request as follows:
- Community Project Requests are funding requests for a specific non‐Federal entity to carry out a specific project.
- Example: “Provide $500,000 for an entrepreneur training program at a nonprofit in City, State”.
Homeland Security Subcommittee
- Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Assistance accounts:
- Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants
- Nonprofit Security Grants
- Emergency Operations Center Grants
- Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Army
- Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Navy
- Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Air Force
- Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Space Force
- Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Defense-Wide
The subcommittee will not accept project requests in any other account. Members will be asked to:
- Provide the name of the specific recipient for the project request and the amount requested for fiscal year 2022.
- Attach the financial disclosure letter required by House rules (described below).
- Provide a description of the desired outcome of the project and how it would benefit the Department of Defense.
- List the line number and Program Element number proposed to fund the project.
- Disclose whether the project is being requested in another bill.
- State whether the request is a new or existing project; if existing, whether it previously received federal funds; and if so, identify the account, amount of funding, and fiscal year.
- Provide the total cost of the project.
- List the required funding in future years and the source of that funding.
- Determine whether the program could start in a limited capacity if the Appropriations Committee cannot fully fund the request.
Please be particularly mindful of the difference between program and community project funding requests. The following would be a program request, as it does not list a specific recipient:
- “$1 million above the FY 2022 budget request for RDT&E Army, line 2, PE # 0601102A”
Should a program request be funded, the Department of Defense or Services would determine to whom and where funds would be awarded. Meanwhile, the following would be a community project funding request, as it lists a specific non-federal recipient:
- “$1 million above the FY 2022 budget request for RDT&E Army, line 2, PE # 0601102A for the University of the District of Columbia to…”
BGR APPROPRIATIONS TEAM