House Republican Leaders Give Up on T-HUD Appropriations For Now, Lacking Votes

House Republican Leaders Give Up on T-HUD Appropriations For Now, Lacking Votes

Republican leaders in the House postponed final consideration of the Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill today when it became clear they did not have the votes to pass it.  The bill, which includes funding for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), is seen as a bellwether of how funding bills for non-defense domestic programs will fare this year.

Adhering to limits imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), the House passed a budget resolution that allows $967 billion in spending in FY2014.  It protects defense spending while taking deeper cuts from non-defense discretionary programs like those in the T-HUD bill.  The lack of sufficient Republican support to pass the T-HUD bill is viewed as a signal that the cuts approved by the House Appropriations Committee in conformance with the budget resolution are too steep even for the party whose mantra is to reduce the deficit through spending cuts alone, not tax increases.  The bill funds programs in the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said he was “deeply disappointed with the decision to pull the bill” from the floor today.  He feels the action means that “the House has declined to proceed on implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago.” 

The Senate did not adhere to the BCA limit in its budget resolution and approved a higher spending limit for FY2014 — $1.058 trillion.  It has been struggling to pass its own version of the T-HUD bill because many Republicans on that side of Capitol Hill believe it spends too much, though they have been less unified than in the recent past.

The House has passed four of the 12 regular appropriations bills so far, all of which fund national security programs that were generally protected from the deepest cuts:  defense, homeland security, military construction/veterans affairs, and energy/water (the Department of Energy oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal).  Republican leaders clearly thought they had enough of their own members on board to pass the T-HUD bill as well, but concluded today they did not.  They say they will resume consideration when the House returns from its August recess, but Rogers is not optimistic.  Calling the bill “the first major attempt by the House to consider and pass an Appropriations bill that funds domestic programs under the austere limit” required by the BCA, he concluded that “the prospects for passing this bill in September are bleak at best.” 

The House is scheduled to be in session for only nine days in September, leaving them little time to pass appropriations bills before FY2014 begins on October 1.  The Senate has not passed any of its appropriations bills yet.  The T-HUD bill was the first to reach the Senate floor last week.  Debate in the Senate is continuing this week.  The Senate also will be in recess in August, but is scheduled to be in session for most of September.

The House T-HUD bill provides $14.16 million for AST; the Senate bill includes $17.01 million.  The President’s request was $16.01 million.

Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the Hill complain bitterly about the sequester that was created yy the BCA and insist that it must be replaced by another method of deficit reduction.  There is no indication that they are any closer to agreeing on an alternative than they were two years ago, however.

The stalemate means that once again government agencies are likely to be funded through a Continuing Resolution (CR).  Usually CRs fund agencies at their current spending levels.  In this case, that would be the FY2013 funding levels, which already included steep cuts.  For non-defense discretionary agencies like NASA and NOAA, the outlook is grim if they are held to FY2013 funding levels for much or all of FY2014.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.