May 8, 2014

International Affairs Budget Update, 5/8/14

House FY15 Appropriations Allocation Spares International Affairs from More Cuts

Today the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY15 subcommittee appropriations allocations, known as 302(b)s.  The 302(b)s adhere to the $1.014 trillion FY15 discretionary spending cap established by last December’s “Murray-Ryan” budget agreement for FY14-15.

For State-Foreign Operations, which houses 97% of the International Affairs Budget, the spending bill provides a strong allocation that maintains funding very close to current levels.  The $42.4 billion allocation for base programs is only $100 million less than current levels and $161 million below the President’s request.  For the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which does not count against discretionary spending caps, the Committee allocates $5.9 billion – the same as requested but 9.5% below current levels. Taken together, the total State-Foreign Operations allocation (base + OCO) is $48.3 billion – 1.4% ($708 million) below current FY14 levels and only $161 million below the President’s FY15 request.

USGLC issued a statement commending House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX), and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) for providing a strong allocation that helps ensure America’s interests are advanced in today’s complex world.

Next Steps

The Senate is expected to adopt their 302(b) allocations later this month, with a tentative markup date of May 22.  Unlike in past years where the House and Senate 302(b) allocations for State-Foreign Operations have been very different – last year there was a $10 billion gap between the two – this year the allocations are expected to be far closer.  In fact, this year a slightly lower allocation in the Senate for State-Foreign Operations is possible due to the domestic discretionary spending priorities of Senate Democrats which could come at the expense of International Affairs.

The State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bills are expected to be among the last bills acted on by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The House State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee is not expected to markup its FY15 spending bill until after the Memorial Day recess, with full Committee markup expected in June.  The Senate Appropriations Committee’s action on the State-Foreign Operations bill will likely follow a similar path, given Chairman Rogers and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are trying to coordinate to some degree the order of appropriations action in each of their chambers.  While both leaders have expressed a strong desire to have all 12 appropriations bills get floor votes, it is unlikely that the calendar will allow all the bills to see floor action before the August recess.  This is especially true in the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is planning only two weeks of floor time in June and two weeks in July for appropriations debate.

Last year only four of the 12 appropriations bills were approved by the full House; the Senate didn’t act on any.  Neither the House nor the Senate took up the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill.  A Continuing Resolution for FY15 will likely be needed before Congress adjourns in early October for election campaigning.  The outcome of the November mid-term elections will dictate whether Congress returns for a post-election lame duck session to finalize FY15 appropriations or waits to act in early 2015 and a new Congress.