October 21, 2019

H.R.3055 – Minibus Appropriations: CJS-AG-Interior-THUD

NOTEWORTHY

Background: The federal government is currently operating under the terms of a continuing resolution that expires November 21. To date, none of the 12 annual appropriations bills has been enacted into law. Unless the House and Senate can complete action on all 12 spending bills for 2020 before the deadline, another continuing resolution will be necessary.

Floor Situation: On October 17, Leader McConnell filed cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R.3055. This vote is expected as early as Tuesday, October 22. Sixty votes are required to invoke cloture.

Executive Summary: H.R.3055 passed the House as a five-bill minibus containing subcommittee appropriations for (1) Commerce, Justice, Science; (2) Agriculture; (3) Interior and Environment; (4) Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and (5) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. The subcommittee allocations of budget authority and outlays that underpin the House spending bills do not reflect the contours of the most recent discretionary cap deal.

The Senate substitute, offered by Senator Shelby, is a four-bill minibus containing subcommittee appropriations for (1) Commerce, Justice, Science, S.2584; (2) Agriculture, S.2522; (3) Interior and Environment, S.2580; and (4) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, S.2520. The Senate substitute does not contain funding for the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.

OVERVIEW OF THE ISSUE

Each year, Congress must consider 12 appropriations measures that provide discretionary funding for the federal government’s numerous activities – e.g., national defense, education, and homeland security – and agency operations. Generally, these bills provide one-year money that expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, September 30. So far, the House and Senate have not agreed to any appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020, which began October 1. As a consequence, the federal government is operating under the terms of a continuing resolution, which will expire November 21. Unless the House and Senate can complete action on all 12 spending bills for 2020 before the deadline, another continuing resolution will be necessary.

The Senate substitute, offered by Senator Shelby, is a four-bill minibus containing subcommittee appropriations for (1) Commerce, Justice, Science, S.2584; (2) Agriculture, S.2522; (3) Interior and Environment, S.2580; and (4) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, S.2520.

The tables included in each section provide a comparison of 2019 enacted discretionary spending (2019 regular appropriations plus the two supplementals) with the Senate’s 2020 proposed levels. The president’s request and House-passed amounts are omitted because they do not reflect the revised budget parameters contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. BBA19 increased the defense discretionary spending caps for 2020 by $101 billion and nondefense discretionary spending by $78 billion and included a new cap adjustment for the 2020 Census.

In this notice, discretionary spending is broken down into two categories: base and cap-adjusted. Base funding refers to amounts of budget authority that count toward the limits of defense and nondefense discretionary spending imposed by budget law. Cap-adjusted spending refers to amounts that are permitted above those limits. Specifically, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (as amended) allows cap adjustments for amounts designated for overseas contingency operations, natural disasters, emergencies, certain program integrity efforts, wildfire suppression, and the 2020 Census. Proposed base and cap-adjusted spending in the Senate substitute amendment are reflected in the tables below.

NOTABLE BILL PROVISIONS

Division A – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Comparison of Discretionary Spending: Commerce, Justice, Science

Budget Authority ($M)

HR 3055

Source: CBO Status of Senate Appropriations for 2019, 2020

 

This division provides funding for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, and several independent science agencies such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Space Council, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. It also funds several related commissions and agencies including the Commission on Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States International Trade Commission, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Notable provisions in the bill include:

Department of Commerce

  1. $15.2 billion for the Department of Commerce, an increase of $3.8 billion above the 2019 enacted level.

  2. $7.6 billion for the Bureau of the Census, $3.7 billion above the 2019 enacted level. Of this, $6.7 billion is allocated for conducting the 2020 Census.

  3. $42.4 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an increase of $2.9 million above the 2019 enacted amount, including funding to enhance the National Broadband Map and help provide broadband access to rural and underserved communities.

  4. $3.5 billion for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect the ideas of entrepreneurs and advance innovation and economic growth.

Department of Justice

  1. $32.4 billion for the Department of Justice, $1.5 billion above the 2019 enacted level. This includes a 3% increase for salaries and expenses for most federal law enforcement agencies.

  2. $10 billion for FBI salaries, expenses, and construction, including $91.6 million for the Innocent Images National Initiative to target and investigate sexual predators on the internet.

  3. $545 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program for state, local, and tribal law enforcement; $214 million for initiatives to reduce backlogs for sexual assault kits and DNA testing; and $517 million to combat opioid, meth, and other substance abuse crises.

  4. Contains a provision (Section 536) prohibiting the use of funds by the Department of Justice to prevent states from implementing state laws related to medical marijuana.

  5. $5.6 billion obligation limitation in the Crime Victims Fund (a ChIMP).

Science and Related Agencies

  1. $22.8 billion for NASA, $1.25 billion above the 2019 enacted level. The funding will be used in part to support the effort to return to the moon by 2024.

  2. $8.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, $242 million above the 2019 enacted level. Funding is provided for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective STEM programs.

Division B – Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies

Comparison of Discretionary Spending: Agriculture

Budget Authority ($M)

HR 3055

Source: CBO Status of Senate Appropriations for 2019, 2020

 

This division provides funding for a wide array of federal programs, mostly in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These programs include agricultural research, education, and extension activities; natural resources conservation programs; farm income and support programs; marketing and inspection activities; domestic food assistance programs; rural housing, economic and community development, and telecommunication and electrification assistance; and various export and international activities of the USDA. The bill also provides funding for the Food and Drug Administration and allows the use of collected fees for administrative expenses of the Farm Credit Administration.

This bill accounts for $128.6 billion in mandatory funding, $23.1 billion in discretionary funding for a total of $151.7 billion, $87 million below the 2019 enacted level. Notable provisions in the bill include:

  1. Provides funding to transfer most employees of the USDA Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington to the Kansas City area.

  2. $3.2 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The budget request had proposed various project terminations and laboratory closures in this area.

  3. $835.2 million ($15 million above the 2019 enacted level) for conservation operations for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners.

  4. $3.1 billion for rural development, including $1.5 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $6.9 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans, and $64 million for distance learning/telemedicine and broadband grants.

  5. $69.2 billion in mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is $4.3 billion below last year’s level because of declining enrollment.

  6. $23.6 billion in mandatory funding for child nutrition programs to provide meals for an estimated 31 million children.

  7. Directs the secretary of agriculture to identify approaches to avoid “lunch shaming” of school children with unpaid school meal fees.

Division C – Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Comparison of Discretionary Spending: Interior and Environment

Budget Authority ($M)

HR 3055

Source: CBO Status of Senate Appropriations for 2019, 2020

 

Division C provides funding for the Department of the Interior (except the Bureau of Reclamation), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Indian Health Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, and similar organizations.

This bill allocates $13.7 billion overall for the Interior Department. Notable provisions in the bill include:

  1. $9.0 billion for EPA, with funding focused on returning the agency to environmental cleanup as a priority.

  2. $7.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service, including investments to better manage forests to prevent wildfires. This includes a $19 million increase for hazardous fuels-reduction to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

  3. $5.2 billion to fight wildland fire, an increase of $1.2 billion above the 2019 enacted level.

  4. $20 million to help states address PFAS contamination and remediation.

  5. $73 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance Act program, which will leverage the money to enable billions in loans to address state and local water infrastructure needs.

  6. $258 million for the Office of Surface Mining, including the continuation of a $115 million pilot program to help address reclamation and economic development in localities involved in coal production.

  7. $1.04 billion for the Smithsonian Institute, including funding to complete the National Air and Space Museum renovation.

Division D – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies

Comparison of Discretionary Spending: Transportation and HUD

Budget Authority ($M)

HR 3055

Source: CBO Status of Senate Appropriations for 2019, 2020

 

This division provides funding to improve transportation infrastructure development, housing assistance, and community development. Notable provisions in the bill include:

Department of Transportation

The bill provides $25.3 billion in discretionary appropriations and $61.3 billion in obligation limitations for DOT, for total budgetary resources of $86.6 billion, $167 million more than in fiscal year 2019.

  1. $1 billion for national infrastructure investments, through the BUILD competitive grant program. Eligible activities include highway, bridge, trail, transit, and port projects.

  2. $49.8 billion in resources for the Federal Highway Administration. This includes $46.3 billion out of the Highway Trust Fund for the federal highway program, an amount level with the FAST Act authorization. It also includes $2.7 billion in discretionary funding, divided among surface transportation block grants, railroad-highway crossings safety, rural bridge rehabilitation, and other programs.

  3. $17.7 billion for Federal Aviation Administration programs, sourced from both the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and the general fund of the Treasury. Most of this funding is for operations and facility expenses of the nation’s air traffic control system.

  4. $2.8 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, including $2 billion for Amtrak.

  5. $13 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, an amount that includes $10.1 billion in formula grants from the Highway Trust Fund, $560 million from the general fund for transit infrastructure grants, and about $2 billion for rail and bus rapid transit projects funded under the capital investment grant program.

  6. $904 million for the Maritime Administration, which includes $300 million for a new training vessel for state maritime academies’ use.

  7. $972 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about a $6 million increase from fiscal year 2019.

  8. $679 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an increase of $12 million from fiscal year 2019. Through a prohibition on uses of funds, the bill exempts drivers hauling livestock and insects from having to track their driving time electronically as part of the hours of service limits.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The bill would provide $56 billion in total budgetary resources for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which includes $48.6 billion in funding and $7.4 billion in receipts from the Federal Housing Administration and the Government National Mortgage Association, or Ginnie Mae.

  1. $23.8 billion for the tenant-based Section 8 voucher program, through which about 2.2 million families receive rental assistance for housing units in the private rental market. This amount is a $1.2 billion increase from fiscal year 2019. Included is $20 million for a new family unification voucher program, which is for youth leaving foster care who are at risk of becoming homeless.

  2. $12.6 billion for the project-based Section 8 rental assistance program, which subsidizes housing through private landlords for about 1.2 million low-income households.

  3. $2.8 billion for homeless assistance grants, which are used to provide people with emergency shelter, rental subsidies, transitional housing, and related assistance.

  4. $696 million for housing programs for elderly people, which is $18 million more than the fiscal year 2019. This total includes $10 million for programs to help the elderly “age in place” at home.

  5. $184 million for housing activities for disabled people.

  6. $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program.

  7. $1.3 billion for the HOME program, which funds acquisition and improvements of rented and owned housing, housing construction, and tenant-based rental assistance.

Independent Agencies

  1. $37 million for the Surface Transportation Board, level with fiscal year 2019, which will be offset with $1.25 million in fees, for a net appropriation of $35.9 million. The board primarily oversees rail industry regulation and rail transactions, along with some trucking and ocean shipping rate regulations.

General Provisions

  1. Sections 410 and 411 prohibit funds being spent on activities that do not comply with Buy American Act requirements, or for people and entities found to have violated the act.

ADMINISTRATION POSITION

As of the date of publication, a Statement of Administration Policy was not available.

COST

CBO has not provided an official estimate for the Senate’s substitute amendment to H.R.3055, but the agency does track the discretionary budgetary effects of 2020 appropriations here.