December 8, 2009
Summary – FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
The FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations conference report contains $446.8 billion in spending and is compiled of six separate Appropriations bills with the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill as the primary legislative vehicle.
Seven appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010 remain to be passed by Congress – the Commerce, Justice, Science bill, the Financial Services bill, the Labor, Health, and Human Services bill, the State and Foreign Operations bill, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill, the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill, and the Defense bill. This massive six-bill omnibus – including every remaining Appropriations bill but Defense - is a result of the failure of Democrat leaders to pass the necessary funding for the federal government through the regular Appropriations process prior to the end of fiscal year in September.
The rate of overall spending in this bill corresponds with the Majority’s budget blueprint that increases non-defense, discretionary spending by 12% over last year. When all Appropriations spending is combined, the Democrat majority has increased non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending by 85% over the last two fiscal years.
The overly generous funding level in this Omnibus allows virtually every agency and account to benefit from significant increases. This means that tough but necessary decisions have not been made to maintain fiscal discipline. This level of spending is absolutely unsustainable in light of our $1.3 trillion deficit this year alone, massive additional spending contained in pending legislation such as the health care bill, and our record-breaking national debt.
Last spring, Appropriations Republicans proposed a reasonable budget plan that held non-defense, non-veterans spending to a 2% increase over last year, compared to the Democrat’s 12% increase. Limiting the five remaining non-defense bills to a 2% increase would free up at least $38 billion – enough to pay for the lion’s share the President’s proposed troop increase in Afghanistan.
In addition, the individual Appropriations bills within this omnibus contain controversial policy items, many of which vary from existing precedents, or represent significant changes from current law. In addition, the Omnibus fails to include important and necessary policy items, including a bi-partisan prohibition on transferring or releasing Guantanamo Bay detainees into the U.S.
The following is a summary of the various individual Appropriations bills that make up the Omnibus:
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon – VA):
The MilCon-VA portion of the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains $78 billion in discretionary funding – a $5.1 billion or 7% increase over last year’s levels - and $56.6 billion in mandatory funding within the Department of Veterans Affairs. These funds include:
• $13.5 billion in funding for military construction, which is $1.2 billion over last year’s level. These funds are used for new construction projects, improvements, and planning and design for a variety of military facilities including troop housing, training, and medical care facilities.
• $200 million in funding to meet critical unfunded military construction requirements of the Guard and Reserve forces.
• $2.3 billion in funding for Family Housing Construction and Operations and Maintenance.
• $7.455 billion in funding for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure program.
• $109.6 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is an increase of $15.3 billion or 16.2% over last year’s funding level. This will provide funding for Veterans’ programs, including compensation for veterans and survivors, pension payments for disabled veterans, widows, and children, housing credits, training and tuition assistance, and Veterans’ medical care and treatment.
• $3.3 billion in funding for VA Information Technology Systems. However, the bill prohibits the obligation of $800.5 million of these funds until the Secretary of the VA submits a certification identifying the projects and programs to receive these funds in FY 2010.
• $1.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to fund military construction abroad.
Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS):
The CJS portion of the Omnibus Appropriations bill includes a total of $64.4 billion, which is an increase of $6.8 billion or 11.7% above last year’s level. This does not include any additional emergency supplemental or “stimulus” funding approved this year.
The bulk of this increase is attributable to the Administration’s projected costs for the 2010 decennial census, which represents an increase of over $4 billion above last year’s level.
The CJS section of the Omnibus also includes:
• $13.85 billion for the Commerce Department, which includes funding for the Census
• $27.5 billion for the Justice Department. However, this includes a significant cut to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which is funded at $330 million - a cut of $70 million or 17.5% from last year’s level. This program helps States cover the costs of incarcerating criminal aliens.
• $18.7 billion for NASA, which includes an additional $500 million over the House-passed version of the CJS bill. In addition, the Omnibus includes language requiring appropriations legislation in order to terminate any existing NASA program, or initiate any new exploration program.
The bill includes language on Guantanamo detainees that is identical to language included in the Homeland Security Appropriations conference report. The provision prohibits the release of Guantanamo prisoners in the U.S., as well as transfers to the U.S. for indefinite detention. It also requires classified reporting on Guantanamo prisoner transfers to other countries and transfers to the U.S for prosecution.
Financial Services – District of Columbia:
The Financial Services section of the Omnibus includes a total of $24.2 billion in funding - which is a 7% increase over last year’s levels. Some funding items in this portion of the legislation include:
• $13.5 billion for the Treasury Department, which is $777.3 million over last year’s level. This includes $103 million for financial crimes enforcement, $2.3 billion for taxpayer services, and $4.9 billion in tax enforcement.
• $771 million, which is 3.6% above last year’s level, for the Executive Office of the President.
• $6.4 billion for the Federal Judiciary - a $357 million or 6% increase over last year. This funding does not include a cost-of-living wage increase for federal judges.
• $4.3 billion for various independent agencies including the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Federal Election Commission (FEC) , the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This is a $610 million or a 17% increase over last year.
In addition, this Financial Services/District of Columbia section of the Omnibus includes changes to long-standing policy provisions, including highly controversial social policy items related to the District of Columbia. Some of these provisions include:
• Needle Exchange – Changes to language in the legislation will allow local D.C. funds to be used for needle exchanges and only prohibits Federal funds for such use at locations determined by local health or law enforcement officials to be inappropriate. This is a significant change from house-passed language that would have prohibited funds from being used to operate a needle exchange program in the District of Columbia within 1,000 feet of any school, day care, or youth activity center.
• Medical Marijuana- The legislation contains a provision that changes long-standing policy language regarding the use of funds for implementation of a medical marijuana program in the District of Columbia. As a result, while the use of federal funds for this program is prohibited, DC will be allowed to use local funds to implement a medical marijuana program.
• School Vouchers- The omnibus includes $12.2 million for D.C. school vouchers – known as the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarships program. However, the legislation will only allow currently enrolled students to receive a voucher, which ultimately will lead to a termination of the program.
• Abortion- The bill does not include a long-standing provision to prohibit federal or local funds from being used to provide abortion services in the District of Columbia, and instead changes the policy to only prohibit federal funds. While a prohibition on both Federal and local funds for D.C. abortions has existed since FY 1996, the DC government will now be able to fund abortions.
• Registration and Benefits to Domestic Partners - The bill does not include long-standing prohibitions on the use of federal funds for the implementation a DC employee health benefits program for domestic partners, or any system of domestic partnership registration.
The Financial Services section of the Omnibus also includes legislative language that would set up an appeals process for auto dealers terminated by GM and Chrysler in bankruptcy proceedings to seek arbitration for reinstatement. This compromise language emerged from a House-passed provision first offered as an amendment by Rep. Steve LaTourette that required that franchise agreements be restored for certain automakers.
Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS):
The LHHS portion of the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains $163.6 billion in funding, which is $11.3 billion or 7% over last year’s level. This funding level is $165 million more than the House-passed bill, and $465 million higher than the Committee-passed Senate bill.
This funding includes:
• $13.5 billion for the Department of Labor – an increase of $1.1 billion or 8% over last year,
• $74 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services – an increase of $6.3 billion or 8.5% over last year,
• $58.6 billion for the Department of Education – an increase of $5.6 billion or 8.8% over last year.
This section also includes a significant $304 million cut to the Bio-shield program which funds and coordinates the purchase of vaccines to protect against bioterrorist attacks. This irresponsible cut will put in jeopardy the health and safety of American citizens should such an attack occur.
The LHHS section of the Omnibus also contains a provision that weakens the federal funding ban on needle exchange programs by allowing federal funds to be used unless the local health departments or local law enforcement determines it is “inappropriate.”
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD):
The THUD portion of the Omnibus includes $69.9 billion in discretionary spending, which is $13 billion or 23% above last year’s level. This funding includes:
• $15.6 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, a $221 million or a 1% increase over last year’s level,
• $42 billion for highways, a $4.2 billion or an 11% increase over last year,
• $1.7 billion for transit programs, a $602 million or a 6% increase over last year,
• $4.4 billion for rail programs including $2.5 billion for high-speed rail, a $2.3 billion or 147% increase over last year. The legislation does not include a provision passed by the House to allow any high-speed rail funds to be transferred to a yet to be authorized National Infrastructure Bank.
• $46 billion for housing programs, a $4.5 billion or an 11% increase over last year.
In addition, this section includes several notable provisions, including language to require Amtrak to establish rules and procedures to allow ticketed passengers to bring guns in their checked baggage on certain trains, and a prohibition – virtually identical to that which was included in the Continuing Resolution passed this fall – to stop federal funds from going to ACORN or its affiliates.
State and Foreign Operations:
The FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations section of the Omnibus includes a total of $48.8 billion in spending, which is $12 billion or a whopping 33% above last year’s level, not including supplemental funding.
The State/Foreign Operations section of the Omnibus contains:
• $16.1 billion in funding for the State Department and related agencies, which is $4 billion over last year’s level.
• $1.39 billion – or $580 million over last year – for USAID.
• $1.1 billion - a $230 million increase - to expand the work of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
• $293.3 million to continue the fight against illegal drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America.
• $521.9 million is provided to continue drug-fighting efforts in Colombia.
• Full funding - $3.41 billion - for the security assistance requests for strategic allies like Israel, Egypt and Jordan.
• $648 million for voluntary planning programs, including $55 million for the United Nations Population Fund.
In addition, the legislation retains provisions of law that restrict funding for abortions and condition family planning assistance. It does not include language in the Senate Committee-passed bill that would codify in law the Obama Administration’s decision to overturn the Mexico City policy.