Congressional Update Appropriations

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Senate on Wednesday passed the conference report to accompany the minibus covering Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch appropriations on by a vote of 92-5. On Thursday, the house voted 377-20 to send the package to the President for his signature. The bills covered under this minibus make up slightly over 10 percent of federal discretionary funding for FY 2019.


The package includes $98.1 billion in funding for Military Construction and the VA, $5.3 billion more than in fiscal 2018. $86.5 billion of that money goes to the Department of Veterans Affairs, $5 billion more than FY 2018. The bill also funds the VA Choice program which gives veterans more flexibility to choose healthcare providers outside the VA system. However, because the legislation does not adjust the spending cap previously agreed to, meaning other discretionary programs will see cuts in order to fund VA Choice.


The Energy and Water section provides $44.64 billion in discretionary spending, a $1.44 billion increase over FY 2018. The legislation gives a $560 million boost to the Department of Energy’s nuclear security programs compared to the current fiscal year and prohibit money being spend on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The package rejects President Trump’s plan to move the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program to the Department of Transportation.


Appropriators on Thursday released the conference report for the spending package covering Defense and Labor-HHS-Education appropriations. Currently, it is expected that the package will be voted on next week in the Senate and the following week in the House. As the end of the fiscal year approaches rapidly, appropriators attached a continuing resolution that would fund portions of the government through Dec. 7 as they continue to negotiate the remaining appropriations bills.


The two-bill spending package that covers nearly 70 percent of discretionary spending would boost FY 2018 spending for the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services and Education, while cutting Labor Department spending.


The defense portion would provide $674.4 billion in discretionary funding, including $606.5 billion in base funding and $67.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds not subject to discretionary spending caps. The combined total is $19.8 billion higher than FY 2018 at $654.6 billion.


The Labor-HHS-Education portion would provide nearly $178.1 billion in discretionary funding, a $1 billion increase over FY 2018. In that measure, HHS would receive $90.5 billion, which is a $2.3 billion increase. The Department of Education would receive $71.5 billion, a $581million increase. The Department of Labor would receive $12.1 billion, $94.3 million less than last year.