This April through September we will see major actions in the U.S. House and Senate as Congress considers and decides on Fiscal Year 2020 funding allocations to the Federal Budget. Piecing together a $1.3 Trillion budget and the ability to know when and how to influence the outcome in your area of interest is a complicated process, but the McKeon Group is up to the challenge.
What happens during this six-month period? Leaders of Subcommittees with jurisdiction over Appropriations will hold hearings and conduct markups to create legislation. Leadership in Congress will make decisions and may take White House and Administration requests under consideration during this process. All the while the political season that will see the entire House and 34 Senate seats up for re-election, but they have to accomplish this by October 1—the start of the next Fiscal Year.
Do you know the funding process for your program or project? Based on past actions, the FY2020 funding legislation will begin to be created later in the summer with House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees marking up their respective bills for Committee and taking to the floor for consideration. If you have a line item program that needs to be influenced, a grant project in need of funding, or reductions planned for agency activities, the following list is just the basics to prepare for:
- The 12 House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees receive detailed budget justification books to use in their jurisdictional funding process. Have you reviewed these materials?
- The 12 House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees hold hearings on FY2020 with key witnesses, from the Administration, public, and Members of Congress for testimony on the budget. Do you know that there are “Member request” Days for most of these Subcommittees for Members to present their views? Have you submitted key questions to be asked of witnesses by Members on funding items or policy initiatives? Are you tracking these hearings and witnesses?
As part of this funding process, actions by authorizing committees and subcommittees should be factored into any FY2020 process. Many decisions on allocations are begun in the Armed Services Committees, from Pentagon line item requests, which eventually are decided by the defense appropriations subcommittees. Do you know that there are forms that can be requested by individual Members of Congress for “Congressionally Directed Funding” requests that are mostly in the Defense areas?
If you link your subject matter to BOTH appropriations and authorizing committees and subcommittees during this process it is critical to determine if you have both bases covered, as the question might be raised later in the funding process. Examples of this could be in any jurisdiction requiring an annual or reauthorization action item, just as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Other linkages are important to know in the process; in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittees, not only is foreign assistance and state department operations decisions funded but allocations for foreign military funding, or IMET (military training) are also included. The linkage here are the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Similar linkages exist in higher education and the Department of Education funding, and any other authorizing Committees.
Most appropriations bills during the last decade have not been finally approved and signed into law before the October 1 deadlines for each year. FY2019, for example, was not finally approved until February 14,2019 almost four and half months late. The present proposed $1.3T Federal Budget was presented by the President for FY2020 on March 11th (over a month and half past the “usual” deadline of submitting it to Congress after the State of the Union). As of the end of March, many federal Departments and agencies still had not presented their detailed budget justification line item requests to Congress and the public. Therefore, the timing of all activities relating to FY2020 is very critical to review and provide early input into the process to avoid problems later in the session or even early in the 2nd Session of the 116th Congress in which the legislation may not finally be signed into law.
In some cases, allocations in the FY2019 process will hold the line item funding issues and direction by agencies and departments into the next FY if the bill is delayed.
What do Appropriations Subcommittees in both the House and Senate focus on for an early decision-making scenario for the next 180 days? The betting in the U.S. Capitol, based on past activities, suggest the following Subcommittees will start their markups (creating their funding priorities and legislation for the full House and Senate Appropriations Committees (for the Fall final process cycle) ready at least in the US House Committee prior to the July,2019 “recess” which begins July 1-8,2019,is as follows:
- Energy, Water Subcommittee
- Defense Subcommittee
- Military Construction, VA Subcommittee
- Legislative Branch Subcommittee
- Labor, HHS Subcommittee
Finally, if all of this activity is overwhelming, please note that the FY2021 process is well underway within the agencies and departments. “Most” agencies have already requested critical input on FY2021 requests and that by May,2019 departments will be reviewing and finalizing their submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by September,2019, which begins a two month final review for the White House and allocates after Thanksgiving a “pass back” to the agency on any last minute changes to the budget and then will present the final FY2021 budget in February,2020 to the Congress.
So the “end game” of appropriations and funding in the Congressional budget cycle is that it is “never ending” at that in any one set of time, two fiscal year budgets decisions are “in play.”
Are you ready?