Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Legislative Branch Funding Bill

April 30, 2019
Press Release
Legislation increases discretionary funding by $135 million from enacted 2019 level

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2020 Legislative Branch funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government, including the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Budget Office, and Capitol Police. 

The bill appropriates a total of $3.943 billion, $135 million or 3.6 percent more than in FY 2019.  In keeping with longstanding practice whereby each chamber of Congress determines its own housekeeping requirements and the other concurs without intervention, the bill does not include funds for the Senate or for Senate office buildings. 

The FY 2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill provides the House of Representatives with increased resources to carry out its responsibilities in developing legislation, conducting oversight, and assisting constituents in their interactions with the Federal Government.  The bill also maintains and builds analytical capacity to support lawmaking and oversight, addresses high-priority needs involving information technology and security, and supports Legislative Branch agencies such as the Library of Congress and the Government Accountability Office in their wider roles of service to the nation.

“Since the start of this year, the House of Representatives has been making tremendous progress in enacting an agenda that works for the people. Our Legislative Branch funding bill ensures the People’s House will continue that work and that our responsibilities and duties are carried out effectively and efficiently,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch Chairman Tim Ryan. “I’m especially proud this bill includes a funding increase to pay our interns. It’s long overdue. These young people are an integral part of every Congressional office and should be paid for their work. I am also very pleased to restore the Office of Technology Assessment which will help Congress understand technology developments and pave the way for better technology and science policy.”

“This bill reverses a trend of recent years that prioritized property over people. The investments we are making are critical to improving Legislative Branch efficacy and to maintaining and developing a workforce of talented professionals who are essential to the legislative process,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey said. “At the same time, our bill provides robust resources to ensure security for staff and visitors on Capitol grounds, and to keep the complex running smoothly and efficiently as we work to deliver results for the American people.” 

A summary of the draft fiscal year 2020 Legislative Branch funding bill is below. The full text of the bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked from https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups.

Bill Summary:

House of Representatives – The bill provides a total of $1.327 billion in discretionary appropriations for the House of Representatives – $94 million above the 2019 enacted level. Roughly half of this increase addresses shortfalls in major House accounts where current appropriations may not be sufficient to support currently authorized spending.

  • $602 million for the Members Representational Allowance (MRA), the basic office budgets of House Members – $29 million more than FY 2019.  In addition to bringing appropriations into line with currently authorized spending, this funding is estimated to support a roughly 2 percent increase in the MRA for 2020.
     
  • $11 million in funding for paid interns, increasing the allowance for paying interns from $20,000 to $25,000 per Member office and extending the program to leadership offices.  This allowance helps extend internship opportunities to people who may not be financially able to take an unpaid position.
     
  • $157 million for the operations of House committees, a $6 million increase.  This appropriation will cover the funding allocated to committees for 2020 by the biennial funding resolution adopted by the House in March (H. Res. 245), which is 3.5 percent above the level allocated in 2018.
     
  • $28 million for the offices of the majority and minority Leadership, $3 million more than appropriated in 2019.
     
  • $244 million for the salaries and expenses of House officers and employees, including the offices of the Clerk of the House, Sergeant at Arms, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Parliamentarian, and Legislative Counsel, among others. This total is $23 million above the FY 2019 level.  Most of the increase is targeted to information technology (IT) and security needs.

Other Agencies

  • $52.7 million for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a $1.9 million increase over FY 2019.  This funding level will allow CBO to continue and modestly increase its efforts to improve modeling and analytical capability in key areas and to make its work as transparent and accessible as possible.
     
  • $6 million in initial funding to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), using the agency’s existing authorization.  OTA was created in 1972 and operated until funding was discontinued in 1995.  A re-opened OTA will provide unbiased expert assistance to help Congress understand the potential and the risks of technological developments and the policy options for addressing issues those developments raise. 
     
  • $6 million for the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, maintaining last year’s increased level, to enforce legal rights and protections in the Legislative Branch, including laws against discrimination and sexual harassment.
     
  • $616 million for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a $26 million increase.  This level should allow the GAO to sustain increases in staffing to handle its large workload and begin to address its information technology and building renovation needs.
     
  • $720 million, an increase of $24 million, for the Library of Congress, including the Copyright Office, Congressional Research Service, and National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  This funding level will allow continued progress on urgent information technology needs and on modernization of systems for copyright registration and recordation and support ongoing Library initiatives such as the Veterans’ History Project.
     
    • The bill includes $5 million for a second installment of funding for the Library’s Enhancing the Visitor Experience initiative, subject to the Appropriations Committees’ review of the specific plans, cost estimates, and schedules for the initiative which the Library is expected to provide this summer.It also includes not less than $5.5 million for modernizing the website that handles distribution of audio and braille reading materials at the National Library Service for the Blind and for purchase of braille e-readers.
       
  • $615 million for the Architect of the Capitol, $26 million less than in fiscal year 2019.  (These totals do not include appropriations for Senate Office Buildings, which as is customary are left to the sole consideration of the Senate.)  Among other things, the reduction reflects support for fewer new renovation projects than in fiscal year 2019, due to overall budget constraints, but the bill nevertheless supports twelve such projects.
     
  • $463 million for the Capitol Police, $7 million more than in FY 2019.  This increase will help cover the cost of operations at the national party conventions next year as well as meeting current operational needs.

Employment of DACA Recipients – The bill includes language permitting the Legislative Branch agencies it funds to employ “Dreamers”—that is, residents of the United States brought to this country as children without proper immigration status—who hold employment authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Despite that employment authorization, use of appropriated funds to hire DACA enrollees is not currently permitted because of a government-wide provision previously carried in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.  That provision, which this bill would override, prohibits use of funds to employ people who are not U.S. citizens and do not hold one of several listed types of immigration status—a list that doesn’t currently include DACA work authorization.

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116th Congress