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News & Press: Member Spotlight

The FY20 Appropriations Process is Underway

Thursday, February 21, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: TCAA Staff
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Members of Congress are back in their states and districts this week after completing work on the remaining FY19 spending bills, which President Trump signed into law. While Capitol Hill may seem slightly quieter this week, work has already begun on the FY20 appropriations process.  Here's what you need to know:
 
A Compressed FY20 Appropriations Process
Completing the FY19 process more than four months into the fiscal year means there is a compressed timeline for action on the FY20 bills. If you are planning on submitting an appropriations request to your Member of Congress, you should have all your materials complete and ready to go within the next week or so. Many Members have started to set their internal deadlines, with some as early as the end of February. Your WSW team is compiling these deadlines, as well as the necessary forms you will need to submit, so expect to hear from us soon if you haven't already.
 
President's Budget Expected March 11th
The President's budget request traditionally hits Capitol Hill the first week of February, signaling the start of the appropriations process.  However, the delay in finishing the FY19 process and the partial government shutdown have predictably caused a delay, so the President's budget is now expected the week of March 11th. 

Remember, the President's budget is not binding.  While the budget lays down markers that help frame the FY20 appropriations process, the age-old adage typically rings true: "the President proposes, Congress disposes." With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives for the first time during the Trump Administration, expect significant pushback on the budget.
 
Your WSW team will provide analysis on the President's budget and the programs and policies important to you as information becomes available, and will be in touch to discuss how the budget request may impact your advocacy.
 
Lifting the Spending Caps?
One issue that the Democratic House and the Republican Senate will need to confront in FY20 is the budget caps -- set by the Budget Control Act of 2010 -- that limit both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. A deal temporarily raising the caps for two years will end on September 30, 2019, so if Congress does not raise the caps again, sequestration will kick in beginning with FY20. House Democrats have indicated raising the caps is a priority; however, considering how difficult it was just to resolve the FY19 appropriations process when budget caps were not an issue, addressing the budget caps to provide relief this year may prove a formidable challenge.   
 
The Return of Earmarks
Significant discussion on Capitol Hill continues on the return of earmarks. Both Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) have stated publicly that they favor the return of congressionally directed spending with proper transparency requirements. The House will have to take the first step to bring back earmarks, most likely through a vote ratifying their return and/or an enhanced disclosure process. If the vote is successful, it's likely the Senate will follow suit. That being said, there are Members of Congress and outside organizations that are expected to oppose the return of earmarks, so we expect a vigorous debate along the way.

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