July 29, 2022
By: BGR Appropropriations Practice Head Bill Viney
On July 28, Senate Democrats released their 12 appropriations bills, which amount to $1.67 trillion in discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2023. As a result of the chamber’s 50-50 split, the bills were drafted without markups or partisan agreement on spending levels. Like the House bills, the Senate bills include earmarks – known as congressionally directed spending items. While the drafts help prepare for negotiations, Congress isn’t expected to make final funding decisions until after the November elections. The text, explanatory statements, and summaries for each bill can be found here.
Generally, Congressional Republicans claim domestic funding is too high in the drafted bills, while defense and national security funding is too low. Republicans also take issue with several of the Democrats’ top spending priorities, including abortion, immigration, and climate. Senate Democrats will also have to work to find common ground with their House counterparts. Senate appropriations bills total about $20 billion more than the number House Democrats proposed. Senators also proposed $850 billion for defense – an 8.7% increase over fiscal 2022, almost double the 4.5% increase in the House proposal, and added $21 billion in emergency pandemic funding.
Highlights in the Senate appropriations bills include:
- Providing resources for abortion access
- Addressing climate change and protecting the environment
- Affordable and safe housing, homelessness prevention
- Addressing substance abuse and the opioid crisis
- Investing in science, research, and development
- Supporting education, including college access, child care, and early childhood education
- Supporting public health and mental health
- Keeping communities safe
- Addressing food insecurities
- Supporting our armed forces and veterans
- Responding to humanitarian crises
- Wildfire prevention and natural disaster relief
- An emergency COVID supplemental
During the last two weeks of June, the House Appropriations Committee completed markups on all 12 spending bills. Six spending bills that cover domestic programs were consolidated into a single package and passed the House on July 20th by a vote of 220-207. While Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said they hoped to vote on three more spending bills before August recess (CJS, Labor-HHS, and State-Foreign Relations), this did not happen. The last three bills – Defense spending, the annual Homeland Security bill, and the Legislative Branch bill that funds Capitol operations – are all being left behind for the time being.
Democrats in both chambers hope the progress they’ve made this month at least serves as a starting point, with months of negotiations to follow. “It is my hope that by releasing these bills and making clear what the priorities of Senate Democrats are, we can take a step closer toward reaching a bipartisan compromise after months of stalled negotiations,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), said. But Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) warned members that they may have to rely on a long-term continuing resolution for future government funding.
The House bills include approximately $8 billion worth of earmarks, or “community project funding.” A list here provides information on congressionally directed spending items that are funded in the fiscal year 2023 Senate appropriations bills. The fiscal year 2022 budget included a total of $9 billion in earmarks – $5 billion of which went to projects requested by Senators.
Despite these recent developments and any negotiations in the weeks ahead, Congress will likely begin work soon on a continuing resolution to ensure no lapse in funding when the current fiscal year ends on September 30. Lawmakers in both parties have said they expect spending bills will be the subject of lame-duck negotiations after the midterm elections but even then, the bills’ success still depends on election outcomes and how much both parties are willing to negotiate.