May 02, 2017

H.R. 244 – Vehicle for the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017

Noteworthy

Background: Funding for fiscal year 2017 is currently provided through Friday, May 5, 2017. The House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 244, the vehicle for the fiscal year 2017 omnibus, was put online early Monday morning. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

Floor Situation: The Senate will consider H.R. 244 when it is received from the House.

Executive Summary: The bill provides spending totaling $1.091 trillion, which includes both base and Overseas Contingency Operations requirements. Total OCO funding is $93.5 billion. The bill also includes emergency and disaster funding which totals $8.2 billion.

Considerations on the Bill

CBO reports that the omnibus bill provides funding totaling $1.091 trillion, which includes both base and Overseas Contingency Operations requirements. Total OCO funding is $93.5 billion. The bill also includes emergency and disaster funding which totals $8.2 billion.

The bill would result in $620.3 billion in defense (function 050) funding and $470.5 billion in nondefense funding. Of the OCO funding, an additional $15 billion is provided for the Department of Defense in Title X of Division C. Titles I through IX of the division address another $5.8 billion included in the administration’s budget amendment.

The bill includes an additional $1.51 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to improve border security and immigration enforcement. The Administration requested $3 billion. 

Notable Bill Provisions

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released detailed summaries of each division of the omnibus, available here.

Highlights of each division’s funding and policy provisions are included below.

Division A – Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA

The division provides $153.4 billion. Of this amount, $20.9 billion is discretionary and the remainder is mandatory funding. Discretionary funding is $873 million below last year’s enacted level.

Provides $945 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. That is $50.8 million above the 2016 enacted level.

Provides $78.5 billion in mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as “food stamps.” That is $2.3 billion below the 2016 level.

Section 747 – Allows states to grant an exemption for the school lunch and school breakfast programs from whole grain nutrition standards if school authorities demonstrate hardship, including financial hardship, in procuring specific whole grain products that are acceptable to students and compliant with whole grain-rich requirements.

Section 765 – Prohibits implementation of USDA’s final rule “Enhancing Retailer Standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2016) until USDA amends the definition of “variety” and “staple food.”

Division B – Commerce, Justice, Science

The division provides $56.5 billion, $833 million more than last year’s enacted level. Of this amount, $9.2 billion is for the Department of Commerce, $8.7 million less than last year’s enacted level, and $28.9 billion is for the Department of Justice, $142 million below last year’s enacted level.

Sets aside $16.4 million for China antidumping and countervailing duty enforcement and compliance activities.

Provides $1.5 billion for the Census Bureau, which is $100 million more than what was appropriated for fiscal year 2016. The bill also requires the Census Bureau to submit plans to Congress and the GAO on its information technology development and procurement before it may use all of the appropriated funds. The GAO included the 2020 Census in its 2017 high-risk program report and said that the Census Bureau must “improve its ability to manage, develop, and secure its IT systems.”

Funds the National Institute of Standards and Technology at $952 million, $12 million less than last year’s enacted level. 

Provides $5.7 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a $90 million decrease from 2016.

Includes $109 million as emergency funding to repair NASA facilities damaged by natural disasters.

At the Department of Justice, the division includes $440 million in a new account specifically for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The explanatory statement directs the DOJ to recruit and hire at least 10 new immigration judge teams. Provides $9 billion for the FBI, an increase of $208 million from fiscal year 2016. Provides $2.5 billion for the DEA, which is $34 million greater than last year’s enacted level. The U.S. Marshals Service is funded at $1.25 billion. Funding for U.S. attorneys totals $2 billion and the Bureau of Prisons is $7 billion.

Provides $2.4 billion for state and local law enforcement activities. The bill includes $103 million in funding for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 and $403 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, of which $27 million is to reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies for pre-inauguration presidential security. It also includes $65 million for initiatives to improve police-community relations.

Includes $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Prohibits the ATF from using funds to investigate or act upon applications by individuals seeking relief from a federal preclusion on possessing firearms.

Section 537 – Prohibits funds from being used to prevent states from implementing their own laws authorizing the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Section 541 – Provides a waiver of certain limitations so as to allow Robert Lighthizer to serve as U.S. trade representative if confirmed.

Sections 202, 203, 204 and administrative provisions under the Legal Services Corporation all maintain pro-life protections in the bill.

Sections 216, 517, 518, 531, and 534 continue Second Amendment protections and avoid Democratic efforts to deviate from current law.

Division C – Department of Defense

This division provides $516.1 billion in base funding for the Department of Defense and $76.6 billion for OCO.

Title X of this division provides $14.8 billion in additional appropriations for the Department of Defense, all of it designated as OCO, in partial satisfaction of the administration’s budget amendment request in March of this year (an additional $248 million is provided elsewhere in additional military construction OCO funding). In addition, Titles I through IX of the division addresses another $5.8 billion included in the administration’s budget amendment.  The Joint Explanatory Statement says the purpose of these additional appropriations is to “rebuild both near-term and long-term readiness, directly support overseas contingency operations, fulfill urgent or emergent operational needs of the combatant commanders, replace operational losses of equipment, and address other unforeseen requirements.”

The Security Assistance Appropriations Act (passed last year as division B of P.L. 114-254 (carrying the continuing resolution)) already provided an additional $5.8 billion in OCO funding for the Department of Defense requested by President Obama after the November election.

In this respect, total funding for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017 is $598.5 billion, composed of $516.1 billion in base funding, and $82.4 billion in OCO ($61.8 billion in Title IX of this division, $14.8 billion in Title X of this division, and $5.8 billion from the previously-passed Security Assistance Appropriations Act).

Of note, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 suggested an OCO limit for budget function 050 in fiscal year 2017 of $58.8 billion.

Section 8101 – Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the United States.

Section 8102 – Prohibits the use of funds to construct or modify facilities in the United States for the purpose of housing Guantanamo detainees.

Section 8103 – Prohibits the transfer or release of a Guantanamo detainee to a third country out of U.S. custody except in accordance with the fiscal year 2017 defense authorization act.

Section 8119 – Reduces the total amount appropriated in Title II of the bill (Operation and Maintenance) by $1.16 billion “to reflect savings due to lower than anticipated fuel costs.”

Title IX – Overseas Contingency Operations

  1. Afghanistan Security Forces Fund – provides $4.26 billion to assist the security forces of Afghanistan, to include providing equipment, supplies, training, and facility and infrastructure repair.

  2. Counter-ISIL Train and Equip Fund – provides $980 million to provide assistance, including equipment and training, to foreign security forces and irregular forces or groups to counter ISIL. Provides further that the secretary shall ensure entities receiving such assistance are appropriately vetted.

  3. OCO Defense-Wide O&M – provides up to $920 million for payments to reimburse key cooperating nations for support provided to U.S. military and stability operations in Afghanistan and to counter ISIL. It further provides that these funds may be used to provide specialized training, supplies, and equipment to coalition forces.

Title X – Additional Appropriations

Section 8103 – Provides that $2.5 billion of the funds provided in this title may not be obligated or expended until 15 days after the president provides a report on the U.S. strategy to defeat the Islamic State.

Section 8103 – Directs the president to transmit a report describing a strategy for Syria within 90 days of enactment.

Title X includes $626 million for the Counter-ISIL Train and Equip Fund. It also includes $1.6 billion for the Counter-ISIL OCO Transfer Fund, which the secretary of defense is then authorized to transfer to the accounts of military personnel, operation and maintenance, procurement, or working capital fund. This transfer authority is in addition to any other transfer authority available to the department.

Division D – Energy and Water Development

The division provides $37.8 billion, $586 million greater than last year’s enacted level. This includes $12.9 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, $412 million above last year’s enacted level. Energy programs within the Department of Energy are funded at $11.3 billion, $257million greater than last year’s enacted level. The division provides $6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $49 million above last year’s enacted level, and $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation, $42 million above last year's enacted level.

Section 108 – Continues prohibition on redefining “fill material” or “discharge of fill material” for purposes of the Clean Water Act.

Section 109 – Prohibits use of funds to require a permit for discharge of dredged or fill material under the Clean Water Act for normal farming, silviculture, and ranching activities, and for construction or maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches, and for maintenance of drainage ditches.

Division E – Financial Services and General Government

The division provides $21.5 billion in total discretionary funding. This includes $11.2 billion for the Internal Revenue Service, equal to last year’s enacted funding. The federal judiciary is funded at $6.9 billion, $149 million greater than last year’s enacted funding. The Securities and Exchange Commission is funded at $1.6 billion, equal to last year’s level.

Section 202 – This section requires OMB to submit a report to Congress within 90 days of enactment on the costs of implementing Dodd-Frank, including mandatory and discretionary spending, and a list of specific costs to be assessed. 

Section 635 – This section prohibits funds used by the Securities and Exchange Commission to finalize, issue, or implement any rule, regulation, or order regarding the disclosure of political contributions, contributions to tax exempt organizations, or dues paid to trade associations.

Division F – Homeland Security

The division provides $49.3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, which is $1.5 billion greater than last year’s enacted level.

Includes $12.2 billion for Customs and Border Protection, $910 million greater than fiscal year 2016 funding. Provides $6.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $603 million greater than last year’s enacted level; that amount includes $1.8 billion for domestic investigations, and the explanatory statement directs ICE to continue to prioritize overstay enforcement and efforts to combat human trafficking and child exploitation. It includes a total of $3.7 billion for enforcement and removal operations. Amounts provided for Custody Operations will support 39,324 for immigration enforcement detention beds, an increase of 5,324 over last year’s level.

Includes $5.19 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, an increase of $325 million from last year. The bill includes $10.5 billion for the Coast Guard, $2.1 billion for the Secret Service, and $1.8 billion for the National Protection and Programs Directorate. FEMA is funded at $4.8 billion, a $78 million increase from last year’s enacted level.

The division includes $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to improve border security and immigration enforcement. This is broken down into $772 million for border security and tactical infrastructure improvements (including $341 million for upgrades to physical barriers along the border and tactical infrastructure improvements and $160 million for border technology), $617 million for immigration enforcement, and $131 million for presidential protection and safety improvements.

Section 105 – Requires the secretary of homeland security to report to Congress with statistics on visa overstays.

Section 402 – Requires U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to conduct background checks before granting immigration benefits.

Section 515 – Prohibits funds from being used for planning or developing a national identity card.

Section 517 – Prohibits funds from being used to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any Guantanamo detainee to the U.S.

Section 539 – Extends the E-Verify Program authorization until September 30, 2017.

Section 541 – Extends until September 30, 2017, the authority to waive certain requirements applicable to foreign doctors with expiring J-1 visas who apply to remain in the United States and commit to working in medically underserved areas.

Section 542 – Extends until September 30, 2017, the EB-5 immigrant investor Regional Center program.

Section 543 – This section gives the secretary of homeland security, after consultation with the secretary of labor, the authority to increase the H-2B visa cap of 66,000 by up to whatever was the highest number in a fiscal year of H-2B visa recipients then exempt from the cap as returning workers.

Section 544 – Provides $41 million for reimbursing law enforcement personnel costs associated with protecting a presidential residence that is designated for protection.

Division G – Interior and Environment

The division provides $32.3 billion for activities under its jurisdiction. This amount includes $12.3 billion for the Department of the Interior, $235 million greater than last year’s enacted level (including emergency fire funding).

$4.2 billion is provided for wildfire fighting and prevention programs within the Department of Interior and the Forest Service, which is the 10-year average. In addition to this amount, the division provides $407 million in emergency funding for wildfire suppression.

The National Park Service is funded at $2.9 billion, $80 million above the 2016 enacted level. The Bureau of Land Management is funded at $1.25 billion, $15 million above last year’s enacted level. The Fish and Wildlife Service is funded at $1.5 billion, $11 million above the 2016 level.

Provides $8.1 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a reduction of $81 million from 2016. The funding level at the EPA is the lowest since fiscal year 2009, and staffing levels at the agency will be at the lowest level since 1989.

Provides $5 billion for the Indian Health Service, an increase of $232 million above last year’s enacted level.

Section 112 – Prohibits use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order No. 3310 issued by the secretary of interior on December 22, 2010, which requires the Bureau of Land Management to inventory lands with wilderness characteristics and to protect them through land use planning and project-level decisions.

Section 114 – Prohibits use of funds to write or issue a proposed rule for greater sage-grouse or a proposed rule for the Columbia basin distinct population segment of greater-sage grouse pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act.

Section 417 – Prohibits use of funds to promulgate or implement any regulation requiring the issuance of permits under title V of the Clean Air Act for carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production.

Section 418 – Prohibits use of funds to implement any provision in a rule, if that provision requires mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.

Section 420 – Prohibits use of funds to regulate the lead content of ammunition, ammunition components, or fishing tackle under the Toxic Substances Control Act or any other law.

Section 424 – Prohibits use of funds to require a permit for discharge of dredged or fill material under the Clean Water Act for normal farming, silviculture, and ranching activities, and for construction or maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches, and for maintenance of drainage ditches.

Section 428 – Requires the administrator of the EPA, the secretary of energy, and the secretary of agriculture to jointly establish a policy for treating biomass as a carbon neutral energy source. The language also encourages the use of biomass as a renewable energy source.

Division H – Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

The division provides $161 billion in discretionary spending, $1.1 billion below last year’s enacted level. The division includes $1.96 billion in cap adjustment funding for preventing waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments in the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. In addition, the bill continues $852 million pursuant to the 21st Century Cures Act and $120 million for response to lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, both appropriated in the Continuing Resolution. The division includes $12.1 billion for the Department of Labor ($83 million less than last year’s enacted level), $77.7 billion for Health and Human Services ($2.7 billion greater than last year), and $68.2 billion for the Department of Education ($182 million greater than last year).

The bill provides no new funding for Obamacare. Notably:

  1. The bill does not include an appropriation for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The Trump administration has said it will continue making the payments absent an appropriation.

  2. The bill continues a provision requiring the administration to operate the ACA risk corridor program in a budget neutral manner by prohibiting any funds from the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill to be used as payments for the risk corridor program.

  3. Funding for the Independent Payment Advisory Board is eliminated. IPAB was created by Obamacare and consists of a board of 15 people appointed to make Medicare spending reduction recommendations if Medicare spending exceeds a statutorily determined threshold.

  4. The bill requires the administration to publish all spending on Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges by category since the law’s enactment.

The division provides $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $2 billion above fiscal year 2016. This includes $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research (increase of $400 million); $5.7 billion for the National Cancer Institute (increase of $475.8 million); $320 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative (an increase of $120 million); $260 million for the BRAIN Initiative to map the human brain (increase of $110 million); $463 million to Combat Antibiotic Resistance (increase of $50 million); $333.4 million for the Institutional Development Award (increase of $12.5 million); and $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. The division provides $156.1 million for rural health programs, an increase of $6.5 million above fiscal year 2016.

$1.2 billion is provided for mental health programs in SAMHSA and HRSA, an increase of $80 million from fiscal year 2016. The bill provides $542 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, an increase of $30 million. $11 million is provided for suicide prevention, an increase of $9 million above fiscal year 2016.

The division provides $801 million, an increase of $650 million, for programs to combat opioid abuse, including treatment, prevention, and overdose reversal at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Health Resources and Services Administration).

The bill includes restrictions of abortion funding for: Title X family planning program; Hyde domestic abortion funding ban (Section 506-507(c)); Weldon conscience protection (Section 507(d)); Dickey-Wicker embryo protection (Section 508).

Pell Grants – The bill restores year-round Pell grants to permit enrollment in additional coursework during the same academic year. This provision is expected to provide an estimated 1 million students an additional Pell grant of, on average, $1,650 during the 2017-18 school year. The bill rescinds $1.3 billion in prior year unobligated Pell grant funding. Based on the latest CBO estimates, even after reinstating year-round Pell, the surplus will be more than $6 billion at the end of fiscal year 2017, and the program is fully funded at current funding levels through fiscal year 2020. It also increases the maximum Pell grant from $5,815 for the 2016-17 school year to $5,920 for the 2017-18 school year due to mandatory funding increases.

Impact Aid – The bill provides $1.33 billion for Impact Act programs, an increase of $23 million above fiscal year 2016. The bill rejects the Obama administration’s proposed elimination of the related federal property program, and instead increases funding by $2 million for the program.

Governor’s Reserve – The bill continues to allow up to 15 percent of a state’s training grant funding to be reserved for governors to address state-wide training needs.

Occupational Licensing – Provides $7.5 million to continue support for Labor Department Occupational Licensing Portability Initiative to help states develop frameworks for reciprocity or portability for certain occupational licenses.

H-2B Temporary, Seasonal Visa Program – Three general provisions are included for a second year to: (1) prevent the application of the Obama administration wage determination methodology; (2) provide authority for seafood industry employers to stagger the entry of their workers; and (3) deny enforcement of revised regulations regarding the three-fourths wage guarantee, corresponding employment requirements, and the definition of temporary need. In addition, the bill provides up to $20 million in additional funding to enhance the H-2B visa application processing capacity and prevent backlogs and delays in fiscal year 2017. 

Division I – Legislative Branch

The division provides $4.4 billion for the legislative branch. The division also includes a pay freeze for members of Congress; members’ pay has been frozen since 2010.

Division J – State and Foreign Operations

The division provides $53.1 billion for the State Department, foreign operations, and related programs. When excluding famine relief funding, the bill is $594 million below last year’s enacted level. This funding includes $36.6 billion in base funding, and $16.5 billion for OCO, of which $990 million of the Overseas Contingency Operations funding is for famine relief in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.

The Security Assistance Appropriations Act (division B of P.L. 114-254) provided an additional $4.3 billion in OCO funding to the Department of State in partial fulfillment of the $5.8 billion counter-ISIL funding requested by President Obama after the November election.

Therefore, total funding for fiscal year 2017 is $57.5 billion, composed of $36.7 billion in base funding, and $20.8 billion in OCO, itself composed of $16.5 billion in this bill and $4.3 billion from division B of P.L. 114-254.

For comparison, the enacted spending for fiscal year 2016 was $52.8 billion in total, $38 billion for base funding and $14.9 billion for OCO.

Section 7041(l)(3) – Directs the secretary of state to reduce Economic Support Fund assistance to the Palestinian Authority by an amount determined to be equivalent to the amount expended by the PA, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and any successor and affiliated organizations as payments for acts of terrorism by people fairly convicted of such acts or who died committing them.

Section 7048(c) – Provides that no funds may be made available to the U.N. Human Rights Council unless the secretary of state determines that participating in the council “is important” to U.S. national interests and that the council “is taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.”

Section 7083 – Increases the number of special immigrant visas authorized to be issued pursuant to the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 to 11,000 from 8,500.

Division K – Transportation and HUD

The division provides $57.7 billion of discretionary funding, $350 million greater than last year’s enacted level. This includes $18.5 billion for the Department of Transportation and $38.8 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The bill reduces or eliminates funding from 58 programs providing more than $650 million in savings.

Includes $16.4 billion for the FAA, an increase of $127 million from fiscal year 2016. The bill provides over $1 billion for the FAA NextGen system and increases funding to accelerate the safe integration of drones into the national airspace. The Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.9 billion, of which $98 million is for deploying positive train control, making improvements to rail infrastructure, and improving passenger rail service. It provides Amtrak with $328 million for the Northeast Corridor and $1.17 billion for its national network. The division provides $3 million for the National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau.

The Federal Highway Administration is funded at $43.3 billion, consistent with the level authorized by the FAST Act. TIGER grants are funded at $500 million. In addition, $528 million in emergency funding is provided for repairs to highways and bridges due to natural disasters.

The Community Development Block Grant program is funded at $3 billion. In addition to this, $400 million in emergency funding is provided for the CDBG program.

Section 419 – This section repeals two provisions of the Obama administration’s trucker rest rules and returns those provisions to the pre-2011 amendment status quo.

Division L – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Additional Appropriations

The full Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill was enacted in September 2016. This division provides $248 million in OCO funding for Military Construction, and $50 million in additional VA funding for opioid and substance abuse prevention and treatment, and for VA to further implement the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act.

Division M – Other Matters

This division extends the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families through fiscal year 2018. It requires a study evaluating the impact of the TANF program, specifically looking at the outcomes of continued welfare reform on child well-being in low-income families, and compliance with program’s work requirement. This provision calls for the development of a clearinghouse of proven and promising approaches to moving welfare recipients to work. 

The division also increases Medicaid payments to Puerto Rico by $296 million and rescinds any unobligated funds from Obamacare’s funding for territories. CBO reports that these provisions combined would increase budget authority by $7 million over the ten year budget window, and increase outlays by $303 million.

It also makes permanent federal funding to continue health care benefits for certain retired miners and their families under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefit Plan, otherwise scheduled to expire at the end of the week. The provision expands those eligible for the health care fund to include miners and beneficiaries whose health benefits would otherwise be denied or reduced due to the bankruptcy of their employer in 2012 and 2015. The $1.3 billion cost over 10 years is offset by extending custom user fees to January 14, 2026, and merchandise processing fees.  

Division N – Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act

This division contains the underlying bill as passed by the House and amended by the Senate. It creates the HIRE Vets Medallion, to be awarded to employers who recruit, employ, and retain veterans and provide community and charitable services supporting the veterans’ community.

Administration Position

A Statement of Administration Policy is not available at this time.

Cost

CBO reports that the omnibus bill provides funding totaling $1.091 trillion, which includes both base and Overseas Contingency Operations requirements. Total OCO funding is $93.5 billion. The bill also includes emergency and disaster funding which totals $8.2 billion.

The bill would result in $620.3 billion in defense (function 050) funding and $470.5 billion in nondefense funding.

RPC Staff Contact: Spencer Wayne, (202) 224-2762