Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act
This week the House is expected to consider the first conference report providing full-year appropriations for agencies funded through three appropriations bills: Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Combined the three bills provide a total of $130.4 billion including $2.3 billion of “disaster relief” funding. Excluding the disaster funding the bills are $757 million below the levels funded in 2011. Including the disaster relief funding the bills are $1.6 billion above the 2011 levels.
The total budgetary impact of this conference report extends beyond the three full-year appropriations bills, because the bill also includes a continuing resolution that runs until December 16, 2011 in order to provide time for Congress to complete appropriations action for the year. This continuing resolution ensures that agencies that have not yet received a full-year appropriation will be funded at a pro-rated level of $1,043 billion, which is the statutory cap established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25). The three full-year bills included in this conference agreement are funded at rates in slightly excess of $1,043 billion, so when combined with the programs that are funded through the CR, total base funding included in this bill is $1,044.8 billion. Including the disaster relief funding brings funding to $1,047.1 billion.
The budget resolution and the BCA also established a separate process for budgeting for the conduct of the war against terrorism. The bill extends funding for the war on terrorism at an annual rate of $118.9 billion compared to the $159.4 billion provided for FY 2011.
Disaster Relief Funding
The BCA established a new exception to the statutory caps on discretionary spending for “disaster relief.” To be eligible for this designation funding must be provided for presidentially declared major disasters under the Stafford Act. Congress must also explicitly designate the funding as “disaster relief.” Funding that is so designated causes the statutory cap to be raised by the amount of the funding. The Administration has requested $7.1 billion in disaster relief funding for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund and the Senate appropriations bills contain $8.6 billion of disaster relief funds for 11 separate appropriations accounts spread over six appropriations bills. This conference report includes $2.3 billion of disaster relief funding for agencies other than FEMA, which is approximately $847 million less than was included in the three Senate bills.
Changes in Mandatory Program Spending
The bill includes $9.1 billion of Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS), about $1 billion less than these bills carried in FY 2011. CHIMPS are typically limitations on the discretionary funding used to implement mandatory programs. Through these limitations, the Appropriations Committee reduces mandatory spending in the budget year and those reductions are credited towards the appropriations bill for the purposes of determining the official score for the bill. Some CHIMPS, for example the $6.6 billion crime victims fund CHIMP, create savings in the budget year but increase spending by the same amount in future years. The conference report includes CHIMPS that reduce budget authority by $9.1 billion in FY2012, but only by $1.2 billion between FY2012-FY2021.