Congress is back in DC after a two-week recess and this week they’re moving the ball forward on a 2013 Budget in both chambers. While the House and Senate are in difference places in the budget process, committees in each chamber are working over the next days and weeks to continue to demonstrate their priorities for FY2013. While the differences in each chamber may be too great to overcome, this week’s activities are a testament that the process is continuing.
The House-passed FY2013 Budget Resolution, in addition to lowering overall non-defense discretionary spending targets past Budget Control Act levels and proposing significant changes and reductions in entitlement spending to Medicaid and Medicare, also outlined a process for replacing the sequester imposed by the Budget Control Act and averting scheduled across-the-board cuts to all programs. To do so, the budget instructs 6 House committees, including Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, to make recommendations by next Friday, April 27th for billions of dollars in spending cuts over the next ten years to replace the sequester. The committees must reach 1, 5, and 10 year savings targets, cutting from programs within their jurisdiction: Energy and Commerce must find $97 billion over ten years, Ways and Means is tasked to identify $53 billion over ten. This week, committees will begin marking up their recommendations, with Ways and Means scheduled for Wednesday (click here for more on their proposal) and Energy and Commerce expected next week. Although there is very little information available on the proposals the Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee will advance, it’s reported that the committee will likely consider proposals that have floated around or been voted on already. For example, E&C might consider various Medicaid changes they have previously voted on, or a repeal of certain ACA funding. A number of bills to this effect already passed the House last year. Once each committee has come up with recommendations (and by no later than April 27th, per the Budget Resolution), committee-recommended cuts will be combined into a reconciliation bill which be voted on by the full House. The reconciliation bill is not expected to go any further. It is still a very important exercise however, as it demonstrates the priorities of the House and where they may look to reduce funding in the future.
In the upper chamber’s opening salvo toward an FY2013 budget, Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) will unveil his budget proposal today in advance of a mark-up in the full Budget Committee tomorrow and Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already stated that a proposal is not necessary as both chambers have already agreed on a discretionary spending level of $1.074 trillion (in the Budget Control Act) and he does not plan to bring the budget resolution up for debate or a vote on the Senate floor.
Stay tuned for updates on the House reconciliation process and the Senate Budget Resolution as it develops.