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FROM THE HILL: FY 2024 Appropriations #3

Conference Committee Looms Over FY2024 Bills


Estimated Read Time: 2 mins. 49 secs.


Written for:

  • All Capitol Core Clients

 

Policy Brief:

  • More than $100 billion in authorized spending separates the House and Senate versions of the 12 Fiscal Year 2024 Spending Bills.

  • Funding debates are being driven by significantly divergent views between the Senate, mainstream House Republicans and Freedom Caucus Members.

  • Both Houses went over their allocation amounts.

  • Congress has until September 30, 2023, to avoid a government shutdown.

 

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

-- Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL)1


Although Congressional researchers have never been fully able to confirm the famous quote attributed to the famous Senate Minority Leader2 whose name appears on the pictured building3, it may be more relevant to the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations debate than ever before. More than $100 billion separates the House and Senate appropriations bills. With a deadline of September 30, 2023, to avoid a government shutdown, Conference Committee Members and Leadership will need to resolve their differences.


The divide might get even bigger if House conservatives can insert additional spending cuts into the chamber’s bills. House Republicans failed to hold a vote before the August recess on their Agriculture-FDA appropriations bill as conservatives pushed for more cuts. Couple that with the fact that the House of Representatives doesn’t return until September 12th and still needs to report two Appropriations bills (Labor-HHS-Education and Commerce-Science-Justice) and then pass 11 of the 12 bills on the Floor prior to Conference Committees. Intra-party squabbling forced the House to scuttle the vote on the Agriculture bill. Moments before, the House squeaked through the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs spending bill which is considered one of the least contentious of the bills.


The situation marks the rare occurrence in which Senate appropriators finish marking all of their bills before the House of Representatives4. It is also highly uncommon for spending bills to include more money than their official allocations, but this year’s funding debate has been driven by divergent views on those differences.

While the committee summaries reflect different ways of adding up the spending and don’t make for a good apples-to-apples comparison between the House and Senate bills, they do reflect the full funding available in each bill. In the Senate, appropriators used cap-exempt emergency funds to provide more money than the $1.59 trillion level outlined in the debt-limit deal. In the House, conservatives pushed for a lower official spending level, but appropriators also redirected old funds that were pulled back in the debt-limit deal, which nearly made up the difference. Some conservatives argue the House bills shouldn’t use those rescissions as offsets for new spending, which would cut funding further. House Republicans will argue partisan policy create the differences in the bills, however, many of the Senate bills passed with bipartisan support.


Does the $100 billion gap spell “Continuing Resolution” for FY2024? That might be difficult for several reasons 1) the Debt-Ceiling Legislation capped spending at FY2022, not FY2023, levels; 2) the deep divides on spending; and 3) the indifference of some Members regarding the impacts of a shutdown. Our “From the Hill: FY2024 Appropriations #1” stated our view of a shutdown or CR.


Further clouding the picture is a dispute over funding for Ukraine. Senate Democrats and Republicans say they’re prepared to provide additional funding for the Ukraine war. The additional funding, the request for which could come within days, could be attached to a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30. But McCarthy and other House Republicans are poised to oppose the effort because it would exceed the caps.


One Republican Member of the House predicted that the fall debate over appropriations will turn into utter chaos.

 

From the Hill is an industry snapshot for Capitol Core Group clients in select industries of interest. It is compiled from Capitol Core research and discussions as well as outside resources including Bloomberg Government, Roll Call, and other relevant sources. All data provided is public data but is compiled for ease of understanding.


This is the third edition in a special in the series on the topic of Appropriations and the Debt Ceiling Debate.

 

For those who identified the Trivial Pursuit questions:

  1. The quote, “A billion here, a billion there…” is attributed to Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL). Several research inquiries including hours of reviewing Senate tapes and interviewing former staff member as well as friends were never able to find the direct quote. Most people said the quote was entirely within his character.

  2. Senator Dirksen was Minority Leader from 1959 to 1969. While many articles indicate the Senator was “Majority Leader” in the Senate, Republicans never totaled more than 36 during his tenure. Known as an artful Legislator, his colleagues deemed him “one of the most powerful Senators in the history of the Republic.” He is a co-author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  3. The building pictured is the Dirksen Senate Office Building, located on Capitol Hill. The Senate renamed the “New Senate Office Building” in honor of Senator Dirksen upon his death in 1969. It is not the Treasury Building.

  4. Extra credit question – Yes, Article 1, Section 7, of the Constitution provides that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives but that the Senate may propose, or concur with, amendments. Only by tradition, general appropriation bills also originate in the House of Representatives. Those of us who work in the business know, that’s not the way it works. Don’t feel bad if you got it wrong, we’ve tricked up our former political science professors with that question.

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