April 11, 2008

Prospects for FY09 Joint Budget Resolution Uncertain; Mark-up of FY08 Supplemental

While both the House and Senate have adopted their respective FY09 budget resolutions, reaching agreement on a final budget may be difficult.  Twenty-six (26) fiscally conservative House Blue Dog Democrats wrote to House and Senate Budget leaders stating they would oppose the final budget resolution if it does not adhere to the “pay-as-you-go” rules. Several Republican Senators also indicated they would oppose a final budget conference report that includes reconciliation language.

As a result, both chambers may be forced to pass separate “deeming resolutions” that would establish discretionary funding limits for each chamber. Both resolutions recommend different funding levels for the FY09 International Affairs Budget. The House includes $38.3 billion, while the Senate recommends the Administration’s full request of $39.8 billion. While these are non-binding recommendations, the Appropriations Committees often use them as a guide when determining the all important 302(b) allocations.

Within the next two weeks, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will mark-up the Administration’s remaining $108 billion FY08 Supplemental request, primarily for military spending for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The request includes $5.4 billion for the International Affairs Budget. Given that the Supplemental is the only “must pass” bill, lawmakers are expected to modify the request based on their own spending priorities and use it as a vehicle to fund additional activities.