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In Congress, Budget Season is Just Beginning

With the President’s fiscal year 2020 budget request expected to be released next week, legislators are kickstarting this year’s federal funding process in earnest. Following his Senate counterpart’s lead, House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-KY-3) announced Monday that the House’s budget resolution would allow for higher discretionary spending levels, a necessary first step in avoiding sequestration funding cuts set to be enacted when the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) expires at the end of this year. The Senate and House are both planning to mark up full budget resolutions in the last week of March and first week of April, respectively.

Although House Democrats, now with the endorsement of Chairman Yarmuth, are eager to raise spending caps for non-defense and defense discretionary programs, GOP fiscal hawks in both the House and Senate are likely to push back against suggestions of increased government spending, particularly with this week’s reports that the US deficit grew 77% in the first quarter of 2019. The exponential increase is due in major part to the corporate and high-earner tax cuts passed in 2017’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act – which was overwhelmingly supported by these same legislators most concerned about the national debt and deficit.

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5) has committed to determine top-line allocations with Senate GOP leaders “soon” if caps-determining legislation isn’t passed first. With entangled complications such as the deficit and a wild card president with a history of proposing drastic non-defense spending cuts in his budget requests, it’s a waiting game to see what funding levels will come from these negotiations.  

Meanwhile, appropriators are in early stages of their processes of allocating funding. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), as Chair of the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, announced her intent to receive Members’ spending requests through March 28. The Subcommittee will also be holding a hearing on April 9 for outside witnesses to speak to the importance of specific programmatic funding.

The federal budget determination process, beginning with Administration requests and carried out by Congress, will be the first litmus test of the government’s commitment to the President’s State of the Union announcement to end the domestic HIV epidemic in the next decade. AIDS United will continue to work with HIV & health policy champions in agencies and in Congress to ensure appropriate funding levels for programs promoting HIV care, treatment, and prevention in the federal budget.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, March 08, 2019

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