October 31, 2013
As the bicameral Budget Conference Committee kicked off today, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski urged the leaders of the Conference Committee to make setting discretionary spending caps for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years their first priority.
In a letter sent to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees, Chairman Rogers and Chairwoman Mikulski underscored the urgent need to arrive at an overall discretionary number (302(a)) for both the House and the Senate to use in drafting annual appropriations legislation.
Because the December 13 budget conference completion date would leave only a month to conference and pass the 12 annual appropriations bills, Chairman Rogers and Chairwoman Mikulski requested that the conferees strive to set this topline number by November 22, saying additional time to work on these critical bills would result in a “much better product.”
Chairman Rogers and Chairwoman Mikulski also asked for a topline number for fiscal year 2015, to “avoid the situation we encountered this year” – in which the disparity between the House and Senate’s topline numbers hindered progress on appropriations bills.
“We believe that if an agreement on a discretionary spending number can be reached early, it will allow for more thoughtful and responsible spending decisions, set the parameters for the budgetary savings that need to be reached in your Budget Conference, and build momentum for a larger budget agreement that addresses the nation’s wide range of fiscal challenges,” the letter stated.
Chairwoman Mikulski reiterated the pressing need to find this shared number to conference and pass the 12 appropriations bills on a shorter timeline: “To accomplish our goal of funding the government for the rest of this fiscal year, we need a topline as soon as possible, and preferably by Thanksgiving,” said Chairwoman Mikulski. “I am hopeful that the Budget conference will agree on a number that replaces sequester sooner rather than later, so that the Appropriations Committees have a topline that will let us write responsible bills that invest in America’s national security, public safety, and infrastructure, meet compelling human needs, and avoid another shutdown, slamdown crisis in January and next year.”
Chairman Rogers echoed Chairwoman Mikulski. “My Committee is prepared to work tirelessly to complete the critical work of funding all of the government by January 15,” he said. “Setting this common, topline number will allow us to get our work done as quickly as possible, thus avoiding the threat of a government shutdown in another few months, and providing some much-needed stability and direction for our nation and our economy.”
A copy of the letter can be found here: /UploadedFiles/10.31.13_Mikulski_Rogers_Letter_to_Budget_Conferees.pdf