House Budget Committee Adjusts Spending Cap
May 7th, 2012
In a quirky turn of events, the House Budget Committee on Monday modified its decision to use $1.028 trillion as the top-line discretionary spending cap for the House for fiscal year (FY) 2013. Instead, the Committee temporarily adjusted the spending cap to $1.047 for the first three months of the 2013 fiscal year (Oct.-Dec. 2012), after which the cap would return to the lower level of $1.028 trillion.
The discretionary spending adjustment would temporarily bring the House spending level in line with the Senate level and with the levels agreed upon by both chambers in the Budget Control Act of 2011. This leaves open the possibility that the House Appropriations Committee will re-issue its allocations to each appropriations subcommittee, including the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
The allocations determine how much each appropriations subcommittee can spend on its respective funding bill for the year. The House Appropriations Committee’s current allocation for the agriculture appropriations bill is $19.4 billion, which is $1.4 billion below the Senate allocation.
The adjustment also means that the Subcommittee will now have the option to produce a FY 2013 appropriations bill that more closely parallels the Senate bill, which was written to Budget Control Act levels and which the Committee passed on April 26.
The modification was included as part of the Sequester Replacement Act, which, combined with a budget reconciliation package, would stop most of the $109 billion in automatic cuts set to occur in FY 2013 (known as the “sequester”) and replace them with $300 billion in cuts over 10 years.
The House Budget Committee today passed both the Sequester Replacement Act and the reconciliation package with a party-line vote. The full House is expected to pass both bills before the end of this week. However, neither is likely to become law, as both would have to be approved by the Senate and the President.
As a reminder, the reconciliation package includes $33 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While this measure will die after House passage later this week, the basic sentiment of increasing cuts to the SNAP program will be debated anew as part of House Agriculture Committee markup of the 2012 Farm Bill. House markup could happen in late June.
We were pleased to report late last month that the Senate annual agricultural funding bill includes funding increases to several critical programs, including the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Value-Added Producer Grants program, both of which are NSAC appropriations priorities. The bill also steers clear of cutting the Conservation Stewardship Program. Our work moving forward will be to ensure that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee produces a FY 2013 funding bill that builds upon these improvements.