Omnibus Appropriations: A 12-Percent Increase for Congress's Still-Unfinished Business
The fiscal year 2010 omnibus spending bill increases discretionary spending by a 12 percent for the six appropriations measures it binds together. In total, the legislation – H.R. 3288 – provides $447 billion in budget authority, an increase of $48 billion from fiscal year 2009. This funding includes $445.3 billion in regular non-emergency spending as well as $1.5 billion in funding designated for overseas contingencies and the global war against terrorism. In addition to this double-digit increase, the six bills that make up the omnibus received $214.3 billion in funding from the “stimulus” bill earlier this year. Since 2009, total discretionary spending, including the “stimulus” and overseas contingency operations, would increase by 24 percent.
Because the Majority has failed to complete action on seven of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began more than 10 weeks ago, Congress once again is resorting to a huge, 2,500-page omnibus bill to fill the gap. Remarked Maya C. MacGuineas, President of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget [CRFB]: “If we can’t do something as simple as passing the appropriations bills we review every year, how are we supposed to do any of the heaving lifting on the budget? . . . Budgeting is one of the most basic functions of governing – there really is no excuse for passing these bills.” (The full CRFB statement can be found at: http://crfb.org/document/where-are-those-appropriations-bills)
The six bills incorporated in H.R. 3288 are: Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; Commerce, Justice, and Science; Financial Services; Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and State, Foreign Operations. These programs are currently funded through a continuing resolution [CR] (Division B of H.R. 2996, Public Law 111-88), which will expire on 18 December 2009 and is not continued by the current bill. The seventh unfinished appropriation – Defense – is left unfunded after that date if Congress fails to take any further action.
Meanwhile, the Majority has delayed Defense appropriations to be the last bill, and the House Appropriations Committee Chairman is using necessary funding for the troops in Afghanistan to justify a tax increase on an economy struggling out of recession. Compared to the 12-percent increase in non-defense spending, the Defense bill is slated for an increase of 4 percent.
Read the full report here.