|Track 1: Economic Stimulus Legislation (Jan/Feb)||Track 2: Completion of FY 2009 Appropriations (Jan/Feb)||Track 3: FY 2010 Budget (March/April); Earmark Reform||Track 4: Stabilizing the Financial, Housing, and Auto sectors (Ongoing)||House Rules Changes Affecting the Budget Process|
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Jan 13: Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing on Peter Orszag to be OMB Director and Rob Nabors to be Deputy Director
Jan 14: Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Peter Orszag to be OMB Director and Rob Nabors to be Deputy Director
Jan 14: House to take up SCHIP (Children's Health Insurance) funding bill (the cost of which is offset by cigarette tax increases)
Jan 14 or 15: House to take up legislation placing conditions on the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds
Jan 20: Presidential Inauguration
Jan 21 or 22: Ways & Means Markup of stimulus bill (tentative)
Jan 22: Senate Finance Committee markup of stimulus bill (tentative)
Feb 2: President required to transmit the FY 2010 budget to Congress (however, this being a presidential transition year, it is likely that President Obama will transmit a "baseline budget" on February 2d followed by a "budget policy outline" later in the month)
Feb: Enactment of remaining FY 2009 appropriations
March 6: Funding for much of the Federal Government expires under the terms of the current continuing resolution (see article below)
March 31: SCHIP runs out of federal funds (State Children's Health Insurance Program)
March/April: Congressional action on a 5-year or 10-year Budget Resolution
May-September: Congressional action on the twelve FY 2010 Appropriations Bills and a Budget Reconciliation bill (if called for by the Budget Resolution)
Last Thursday, January 8, 2009, President-Elect Obama delivered an address underscoring his aim to sign into law as soon as possible an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. Estimates put the cost of the bill at $775 billion over two years.
Last Friday, the Obama economic team released a report analyzing the "Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan."
Timing.-- Last month, Democratic leaders had signaled an intention to have a measure ready for the new President's signature on January 20th. This month, with Members of Congress beginning to focus on the details, the goal has now shifted to a more realistic timetable of completing action before the President's Day recess. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said she will cancel Congress' President's Day recess (Feb 16-20) if an economic stimulus package isn't completed by then.
House Republicans have outlined an alternative stimulus plan focused on tax cuts and energy investments.
The nation's governors discussed infrastructure projects recently during a meeting with President-elect Obama. See the National Governors Association white paper on economic recovery.
Last year's FY 2009 appropriations process was one of the worst on record in terms of Congress passing the 12 regular appropriations bills. In fact, only one FY 2009 appropriations bill made it to the House Floor.
There were two reasons for the serious disruption of the regular appropriations process. First, President Bush threatened to veto any appropriations bills that exceeded his requests, and Democrats--as reflected in the Budget Resolution--called for nearly $25 billion more than the President requested. Second, House Republicans attempted to amend appropriations bills with off-shore oil drilling amendments, strongly opposed by many Democrats.
Consequently, in late September, Congress enacted a stopgap measure to keep Federal programs operating. The stopgap measure was a hybrid of an "omnibus" appropriations bill and a "continuing resolution":
The stopgap provision did not provide inflation adjustments for the covered agencies. However, some specific programs did receive increases: the low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) received a $2.5 billion increase over '08; Pell Grants for higher education received $2.5 billion over '08; and the WIC program received $1 billion over '08 to assist with nutrition for new mothers and their children.
In addition, the bill included $23 billion for disaster relief, and authorized $25 billion in loans to the auto industry to retool and develop more fuel efficient vehicles. (GM and Chrysler have received a separate bridge loan from the TARP to forestall bankruptcy.)
In the coming weeks, the Obama Transition Team will work with congressional appropriators on legislation to keep Federal programs operating beyond March 6, 2009, and at levels closer to Congress' FY 2009 Budget Resolution.Following is a summary of the late September stopgap measure:
While FY 2009 appropriations and a major economic stimulus plan are being expedited, President-elect Obama's new Administration will be simultaneously developing an FY 2010 Budget for transmittal to Congress. The new Administration is likely to send a "baseline budget" to Congress on February 2d, followed by a "budget policy outline" later in the month.
The FY 2010 Budget transmittal will provide Congress with its first opportunity to view the Administration's long-term budget priorities.
From a strategic point of view, provisions that may be controversial are more likely to be considered in the FY 2010 budget process rather than in the January stimulus bill. The reason is that the FY 2010 congressional budget process can initiate a filibuster-proof "Budget Reconciliation" measure.
New Earmark Reforms.--On January 6th, House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI) and incoming Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) announced new earmark reforms for the FY 2010 Appropriations process:
The Washington Budget Report is maintaining an ongoing summary of actions taken by the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and other agencies to stabilize the financial, housing, and auto sectors and reestablish credit flows.