Legislative Activity

114th Congress Prepares for Busy Appropriations and Budget Season   

Legislators are gearing up for a busy agenda at the start of the 114th Congress, including several key appropriations and budget priorities.

On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (also known as the “CRomnibus”). The CRomnibus funds most of the federal government through September 30, the end of the fiscal year. However, it only funds the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through February 27. Republicans will likely use this extension of DHS funding as an opportunity to respond to the President’s executive actions on immigration.

Legislators will also soon turn their attention to FY 2016, beginning with the release of the President’s proposed budget in the spring. With control over both chambers, Republicans could pass a budget resolution – a non-binding measure setting out Congressional budget priorities – for the first time since 2009. But several key developments may complicate upcoming budget negotiations:

  •  A 2013 budget agreement establishing top-line spending limits for FY 2014 and 2015, which eased the budget negotiations process, has now expired.
  •  Unless Congress can agree on a plan to lower the budget deficit, sequestration – automatic, across-the-board spending cuts – will come into effect on October 1.
  • And U.S. borrowing authority is set to lapse again this year, setting up another “fiscal cliff” showdown in the late spring or early summer.

Republicans Announce Shift to “Dynamic Scoring”

In December 2014, Republicans announced a change to how legislators will measure the impact of tax reform measures. The proposed change to the House Rules would require the use of “dynamic scoring,” which attempts to predict the broader impacts of changes to the tax code, including on employment and capital stock. While the new House Rule would require use of this alternate methodology, it does not specify how, allowing for potentially wide latitude in its application by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation. CBO head Doug Elmendorf’s term expired on Saturday, January 3. Unnamed reports indicate that Republicans are considering their own CBO nominee, but Democrats are urging Elmendorf be kept in the position.

Expected Budget and Appropriations Committee Leadership

The following members are expected to lead the House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees:

  • House Budget Committee:
    • Chairman Tom Price (R-GA)
    • Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  •  Senate Budget Committee:
    • Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY)
    • Ranking Member Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
  •  House Appropriations Committee:
    • Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY)
    • Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY)
  • Senate Appropriations Committee:
    • Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS)
    • Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)