House and Senate Appropriators Remain Far Apart

June 18, 2013

by Paula Skedsvold 

This week, Senate appropriators will begin marking up the first of 12 spending bills. Using a top-line number of $1.058 trillion, Senate Democrats will lay out a sharp contrast to the overall spending number in the House which is approximately $91 billion lower.

Both the Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers want to see sequestration eliminated; however, Chairman Rogers’ starting point assumes sequestration continues as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA). Chairwoman Mikulski, on the other hand, is hoping for a broad agreement to avoid further cuts.

While the overall House number adheres to the BCA, the initial spending bills that have been marked up in the House use spending levels that are so high they will force severe cuts in the remaining spending bills to stay within the BCA limit.

The Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, in particular, would take a huge hit in the House if a broader agreement on spending number is not reached. Indeed, in a recent meeting, the NIH Director Francis Collins told his advisory Committee that on top of the $1.5 billion cut in FY 2013, the House has proposed keeping the 5% cut from sequestration and slashing 18.5% more in FY 2014. 

There is no question that the stage is set for a difficult appropriations season.