The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are each continuing to work through their 60+ agency hearings that are needed as the Committees evaluate the Administration’s fiscal 2015 budget proposals. However, the end of the hearings push is in sight by the middle of next month and the first subcommittee markup is being planned in the Senate.
Senate Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said yesterday that she plans to set the first full committee markup for May 22 and that the Military Construction-VA bill would likely be the first one marked up. She also stated her intention to move bills to the Senate floor in early June in an attempt to complete as many as possible before the August recess. The House also is also planning to move several less controversial bills early this year and the two chambers are trying to plan movement of bills in more of less in sync with each other. Senator Mikulski and House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) have had regular meetings on the staging of bills in the process and the overall allocations to each.
The Appropriations Committees this year are working with an already pre-defined discretionary funding limit for 2015 of $1.014 trillion, divided between domestic and defense accounts. The amount was set in December’s Bipartisan Budget Act agreement that covered fiscal 2014 and 2015.
The presumption had been that with the spending limit being set, appropriations bills would flow through the process more easily this year. With Congressional elections scheduled for the fall, it is likely that at least some agencies will see their funding provided through a Continuing Resolution in September until at least the weeks following the November elections when Congress will most likely return for a “lame duck” session to wrap up unfinished business.