Senate Appropriators to Set Up a Funding Showdown With House

Senate Appropriators to Set Up a Funding Showdown With House

Reuters/Stephanie Keith

The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to meet Thursday morning to consider what are known as 302(b) subcommittee allocations — the topline spending levels for each of the 12 annual appropriations bills. The Senate is expected to set those spending levels in line with the caps set by the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act negotiated by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Senate appropriators reportedly hope to send all 12 spending bills to the floor before August recess.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved $1.47 trillion in discretionary spending for next year, or $120 billion below the caps in the bipartisan deal. Those levels were set after Republican leaders came under fire from right-wing hardliners who insisted on deeper spending cuts and a return to fiscal year 2022 funding levels.

“Simply put, the debt ceiling bill set a ceiling, not a floor, for Fiscal Year 2024 bills,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger of Texas said last week. “The allocations before us reflect the change members on my side of the aisle want to see by returning spending to responsible levels.”

By funding the government at different levels, the two chambers are setting up another fiscal showdown that raises the risk of a government shutdown starting October 1. If Congress doesn’t enact all 12 appropriations bills by January, the Fiscal Responsibility Act calls for an automatic, across-the-board cut of 1%.

“It’s not unusual that the House and Senate come up with different bills with different amounts,” Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate appropriations panel, said last week. “So in a way, this is a return to the way things used to be. And in a way, it’s a return to the days when we had conference committees to work out these differences.”

Also this week: The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will hold markup sessions for the National Defense Authorization Act. And Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify before panels in the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.