4/25/2017:  Understanding The Process of the Budget/ Spending Bills, Etc.

Thank You Heritage Action for the Info

The spending process can be confusing, so always good to review. There is the budget process, which allows for budget reconciliation. Once they begin on the FY18 budget, they are no longer able to use reconciliation for the FY17 budget (which is being used to repeal Obamacare). Katie is correct that they have been intending to use the reconciliation opportunity that comes with the FY18 budget for tax reform.

They are also working on a CR – this is the spending/appropriations process which is a completely different type of bill than a budget. They passed a 1-week CR that Trump signed late last night (Friday, 4/28/17), and are expected to work on drafting a longer-term CR next week that will likely go into September or some time in the fall.

Here is a good review of the terminology:

The Budget: Each year Congress is required to pass a budget resolution that sets the parameters for the spending and tax bills under consideration. A congressional budget is not signed by the President into law, but rather sets spending levels to each Appropriations subcommittee each fiscal year. The president proposes his own budget and sends it to Congress for consideration, but Congress is not bound by these suggestions.

Regular Appropriations Bills: These are annual bills that spend or “appropriate” money. The appropriations process is divided into 12 different bills, each one under the purview of a different appropriations subcommittee. In theory, Congress considers these bills separately.

Omnibus Spending Bill: For a variety of reasons, Congress usually fails to pass the regular individual appropriations bill on time. Instead, Congress usually bundles all 12 spending bills into one large bill at the end of the fiscal year, known as anomnibus. These bills are thousands of pages long and normally impossible to fully read by members and their staff. As a result,omnibus bills are often filled with special interest provisions inserted at the last minute.

Continuing Resolution: As an alternative to passing an omnibus bill, Congress considers a continuing resolution (CR) to continue appropriations at the same levels as previously signed into law. At times, A CR will also make significant adjustments to specific spending programs or adding additional funding limitations (e.g. defunding Planned Parenthood, executive amnesty, etc.). A CR can extend funding for short periods of time or for an entire fiscal year. If Congress is backed up against a spending deadline, conservatives often push for a CR over an omnibus because it takes power away from the Appropriations Committees and avoids the danger of special interest provisions being inserted at the 11th hour.

Cromnibus: A cromnibus is a rare bill that contains elements of an omnibus spending bill and a CR. If, for example, the omnibus spending bill only bundles together 11 bills, but adds to it a CR that affects programs covered by the 12th, the conglomerate is called a cromnibus. Congress did this in 2014 when it bundled all regular appropriations bills except for the one funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (with jurisdiction over executive amnesty) to set funding for the entire year. It then included a short-term CR for the DHS to extend funding for a few months.

Stephanie Kreuz

Regional Manager

Heritage Action for America

Cell: 202-258-4703