December 18, 2014

Washington Budget Report: Sept. 23, 2009

Washington Budget Report: Sept. 23, 2009
Health Reform: Finance Committee Begins Mark-Up, Changes Bill Health Reform Side-by-Side The "Other" Major Budget Bill: Student Loan Reform Increase in the Debt Ceiling could be a Vehicle for Deficit Reduction Commission Appropriations Tracker

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About 

Welcome to the Concord Coalition's weekly Washington Budget Report: a nonpartisan plain English summary of key budget, appropriations, and tax developments.  The Concord Coalition Washington Budget Report is written and edited by Charles Konigsberg, Chief Budget Counsel of The Concord Coalition. If you have questions or comments contact us at ckonigsberg@concordcoalition.org. 

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Budget Process: Step-by-Step

Quick Read

New additions to the following chronologies are in bold type.    

1. Economic Stimulus 

  • January:  Congress allowed release of the second half of TARP's $700 billion 
  • Feb 17: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law by the President (Concord Summary)
  • June 18: Congress enacted $1 billion "cash for clunkers" program in FY 2009 Supplemental
  • August 7: President signed (HR 3435) to extend "cash for clunkers" program w/ an additional $2 billion 
  • Current: Track expenditures at www.recovery.gov   

2. Completion of '09 Appropriations

3. FY 2010 Budget and Appropriations

  • February 26: President Obama transmitted a budget outline.
  • March 20: CBO released its Preliminary Analysis of the President's FY 2010 budget (using CBO economic projections)
  • March 25-26: House Budget Comm. and Senate Budget Comm. marked-up their respective versions of the FY 2010 Congressional Budget Resolution.
  • April 29: House and Senate adopted Budget Resolution Conference Report (S.Con.Res. 13).
  • May 11:  Administration released detailed FY 2010 Budget 
  • May-Sept: Action on the 12 regular FY 2010 appropriations bills beginning with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees dividing their budget resolution allocations among their 12 respective subcommittees (known as 302(b) allocations).  See "Appropriations Tracker" below for detailed appropriations actions.
  • August 25: CBO and OMB Release Updated Economic and Budget Projections
  • October 1: Fiscal Year 2010 begins (a continuing resolution will have to be passed before October 1 to allow government programs to continue operating).
  • October 15: Budget Resolution deadline for committees to report budget reconciliation legislation (health care reform and student loan reform), although congressional leaders will initially try to move a free-standing health reform bill without budget reconciliation's filibuster-proof protections. 

4. Stabilizing the Financial, Housing, and Auto Sectors

5. Health Care Reform 

  • March 5: White House Summit on Health Reform
  • May 11: White House meeting with Key Stakeholder Groups
  • July 15: Senate HELP Committee completed mark-up of health care reform bill.
  • July 17: Ed & Labor Committee marked up and passed its portion of the House Tri-Committee health reform bill
  • July 17: Ways & Means Committee marked up and passed its portion of the House Tri-Committee health reform bill
  • July 17: CBO released cost estimate on House Tri-committee bill estimating a deficit increase of $239 billion.
  • July 31: Energy and Commerce passed modified version of Tri-Committee health reform
  • Sept. 9: President speaking to Congress says he won't sign a bill that increases deficits "either now or in the future"
  • Sept. 22: Senate Finance Committee mark-up begins
  • Oct. 15: Budget Resolution deadline for committees to report budget reconciliation legislation including health care reform (although congressional committees are first attempting to move free-standing health reform legislation without budget reconciliation's filibuster-proof protections.) The advantage of Reconciliation is its immunity from filibuster; the disadvantage is that bill opponents could use the "Byrd Rule" to strip out all "non-budgetary" policy provisions.

6. Climate Change - Energy    

  • May 21:  House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, approving the measure on a nearly party-line vote (33-25). The bill would mandate a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 83% by 2050.  To accomplish this, the government would set a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be emitted and would issue allowances to polluting sectors that could buy and sell those rights ("cap-and-trade").
  • June 6: CBO says Waxman-Markey climate bill (HR 2454) would reduce the federal deficit $24 billion over 2010-2019. CBO Report
  • June 17: Senate Energy & Committee Committee passed 15-8 a controversial energy bill opposed by many environmental groups    Press Release    Bill Summary   Opposition from Environmental Groups
  • June 26: CBO estimates that the revised Waxman-Markey climate bill (HR 2998) would reduce the federal deficit $9 billion over 2010-2019 (increasing revenues from "cap-and-trade" by $873 billion and increasing direct (mandatory) spending $864 billion).  CBO Report
  • June 26: House narrowly passed Waxman-Markey climate change bill 219-212
  • Senate EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is aiming for a September mark-up of legislation.
  • The Administration wants a bill passed before U.N. climate change talks in Denmark in December.

7. Highway Bill (FY 2010-15)

  • September 2008: Due to a shortfall in Highway Trust Fund revenues, Congress passed PL 110-318, providing an $8.017 billion transfer from the Treasury's general fund to the HTF.
  • Highway Bill.--Leaders of key congressional committees have been negotiating the parameters of the next multiyear highway bill for fiscal years 2010-2015.  However, the Obama Administration has signaled an interest in putting off consideration of a multiyear highway bill due to cost issues -- opting instead for an 18-month extension of current law--but even that will require finding $20 billion in revenues, since the federal gas tax is generating insufficient revenues to fund highway programs.
  • February 2009: Sweeping reforms proposed by the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission
  • August 7, 2009: President signed legislation (HR 3357) to transfer $7 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it solvent through September 30, when the current Highway Bill expires.
  • September 22, 2009: The House may take up a 3-month extension of highway bill funding, as opposed to the Senate which is attempting to move an 18-monthy extension.
  • Background.--For the period covered by the budget resolution (2010-2014), Congress allocated $259 billion to the relevant House and Senate Committees for highway and transit spending. This amount reflects a $67 billion increase above the "baseline" level--which is tied to current highway spending. 

8. Statutory PAYGO

  9. Higher Education Reform

  • July 15: House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) introduced legislation (HR 3221) to convert Federal Family Education Loans (otherwise known as guaranteed student loans) to direct government loans. The budget savings from the student loan reforms would be used to boost Pell Grants and funding for community colleges and other programs.
  • July 21: House Education & Labor Committee voted to report HR 3221.
  • July 24: CBO Cost Estimate for HR 3221
  • CBO, July 2009: Analysis of the Subsidy Costs of Direct and Guaranteed Student Loans
  • Sept 11: CBO says an alternative proposal favored by the student loan industry would save less money than an administration proposal to convert all student loans to direct government lending   CBO Cost Estimate
  • Sept. 17: House passed HR 3221 by a vote of 253-71.
  • Oct. 15: Budget Resolution deadline for committees to report budget reconciliation legislation including student loan and Pell Grant reforms

10. Long-Term Deficit Reduction

  • February 23: White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit 
  •   March 17: Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) introduced legislation to establish a commission to reform tax policy and entitlement programs (HR 1557) 
  •  May 14: Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced legislation to establish a commission to reform tax policy and entitlement programs (S 1056) 
  •  July 22: In an interview with the Washington Post President Obama said he would support creation of a "commission or mechanism" to develop recommendations on which Congress would have to act and that "everything is going to have to be on the table." He said after health reform is enacted "then I think we're in a position to be able to, either at the end of this year or early next year, start laying out a broader picture about how we are going to handle entitlements in a serious way."

11. Tax Legislation

  • Unsustainable Deficits and Tax Reform: Under the President's Budget, average revenues during 2010-2019 are 18.5% of GDP, with average spending amounting to 23.7% of GDP.  Tax reform proposals, such as a Value-Added Tax (VAT), are often mentioned as one way to close the gap.  See Congressional Research Service:  An overview of tax reform proposals in the 111th Congress. 
  • Estate Tax:  Under current law, the estate tax is repealed for tax year 2010 and will return to pre-2001 levels in 2011.  The Senate Finance Committee is likely to move legislation before the end of 2009 to retain the estate tax at 2009 levels for future years.

12. Unemployment Insurance

  • The House passed a bill Tuesday (9/22) to extend unemployment benefits another 13 weeks for workers in states where the job market has been hardest hit (defined as a 3-month average unemployment rate over 8.5 percent).

Health Reform: Finance Committee Begins Mark-Up, Changes Bill

Senate Finance Committee yesterday (Tuesday 9/22) began marking up the plan released by Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) last week, with a significant modification released by Baucus yesterday.  While four other congressional committees have already marked up bills--3 committees in the House and the HELP Committee in the Senate--the Finance Committee action is is the most critical health reform markup because the Baucus plan is the only one that meets the President's commitment to not increasing the deficit in the short- or long-term (although we do not yet know what the long-term outlook is in light of Baucus' modification).

In general, the Baucus plan would: require individuals to have health insurance (or pay a penalty); require employers--except for small businesses--to offer insurance (or pay a fee per worker); prohibit insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage due to illness; prohibit insurance companies from varying premiums to reflect differences in enrollees' health; expand Medicaid coverage for people at or near the poverty level; provide tax credits (to people with incomes up to 400% of poverty level) to help the uninsured obtain insurance; set up state-based Exchanges to promote access; and establish non-profit co-ops  to spur competition in the health insurance exchanges.

Modifications to the Baucus plan:  In response to significant concerns expressed about the affordability of health insurance under his plan, Chairman Baucus released yesterday (9/22) a series of modifications that: increase the health care tax credits, reduce out-of-pocket limits, lower the penalties for people who fail to get health insurance, grandfather Medicare Advantage plans in some areas, and increase the threshold for paying excise tax on expensive health insurance plans (but increasing the amount of the tax).  The changes would be paid for by reducing the net deficit reduction in the original chairman's mark, delaying the affordability tax credits until July 1, 2013,  and increasing the the threshold for claiming itemized deductions for medical expenses to 10%.  It is unclear what these changes do to the cost of the bill in second 10 years (2020-29).  The modifications are designed to garner sufficient votes to report the measure out of Finance Committee.  Every Democrat on the Committee was involved in requesting at least one of the modifications (except for Sen. Conrad who already supports the Baucus mark).  In addition Finance Republicans Snowe, Roberts, and Enzi joined in requesting some of the modifications.

Finance Committee Summary (pre-modification)

COVERAGE: The Baucus plan would increase the share of legal nonelderly with health insurance coverage from 83% to 94%.

Cost and Deficit Impact: According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the Baucus plan over 2010-2019 would (as estimated prior to the 9/22 modifications):
  • result in net deficit reduction of $49 billion over 2010-2019 (much of this would be consumed by the modifications);
  • increase spending by $774 billion primarily from providing tax subsidies ($463 b), expanding Medicaid ($287 b),  and providing tax credits to small employers ($24 b); 
  • reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending by $409 billion primarily from reducing the annual growth in Medicare payments for most services ($182 b), reducing Medicare Advantage subsidies ($123 b), reducing payments to "DSH" hospitals which service large numbers of low-income patients ($48 b), and adopting reform proposals on payment rates developed by a Medicare Commission ($23 b);
  • raise new revenues of $349 billion primarily from an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans ($205 b), and imposing annual fees on drug and medical device manufacturers and other health providers ($92 b); and
  • raise receipts of $47 billion from penalty payments by uninsured individuals and employers not providing insurance.
Procedural Outlook: It remains to be seen whether the Baucus plan will be reported as a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill OR as a normal, free-standing bill (or both).  A reconciliation bill requires only 50 votes to pass the Senate but is strictly limited by the "Byrd Rule" to "budgetary provisions" -- which poses significant problems for legislation intending to regulate the health insurance industry.  On the other hand, while a non-reconciliation bill would not have any limitations on the types of provisions that could be included, it would require 60 votes to overcome an expected Republican filibuster. 

The procedural path will depend in large part on whether Baucus can attract the support of moderate Republican Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) AND whether he can avoid losing the votes of lilberal Democrats (Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and  others) who are concerned about the adequacy of tax credits to assist low-income Americans in affording health insurance.

Last week Sen. Snowe told Congressional Quarterly, "I believe the chairman's legislation moves in the right direction away from a government-run system contained in the bills that have passed other congressional committees, but a number of issues still need to be addressed."

Mark-up Schedule

Finance Committee is aiming to complete action and report a bill next week after CBO provides a preliminary cost estimate of the bill as amended in committee.  A major complicating factor in bringing the measure to the Senate Floor will be the extent to which Senate leaders decide to merge provisions from the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee bill into the Finance Committee bill.

House to Combine Three Bills

While keeping a close eye on developments in the Senate, House Democrats will have to reconcile differences among the three versions of the "tri-committee" health reform bill passed by the Ways & Means, Education & Labor, and Energy & Commerce Committees.

The House Rules Committee will have to meld the three committee bills together, along with any further amendments adopted by the Energy and Commerce Committee, which will resume its mark-up today (Wednesday, 9/23).  The House committees may also have to develop a reconciliation bill by October 15 if the Senate goes that route (see above). 

Health Reform Side-by-Side

Currently pending are three major health reform measures at various stages of development, as well as a set of principles laid out by the President in addressing Congress on September 9, 2009. 

  1. A tri-committee House plan (Ways & Means/Rangel, Energy & Commerce/Waxman, and Education and Labor/Miller).  
  2. A Senate HELP Committee Democratic plan (Kennedy-Dodd-Harkin) was voted out of committee on July 15, 2009.  HELP Committee Summary

  3. A plan released last week by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)--and modified yesterday--based on bipartisan negotiations among the "Gang of Six" (Finance Committee Republican Chuck Grassley (IA); Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND); Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME); and HELP Committee ranking Republican Mike Enzi (R-WY)).
  4. On September 9th in an address to a joint session of Congress, the President laid out a set of major principles for health reform.

Click here for a Concord Coalition side-by-side comparison of the three plans and the President's principles

The "Other" Major Budget Bill: Student Loan Reform

Last week, the House passed a major overhaul of the student loan system that would terminate the Federal Family Education Loan program (otherwise known as guaranteed student loans) and re-direct all loan activity into the direct student loan program.  This would result in substantial budgetary savings which would be invested in Pell Grants, lowering borrower interest rates, and other education programs. The bill, HR 3221, passed the House by a vote of 253-71.

Currently, the two programs -- direct student loans and guaranteed student loans (FFELs) -- operate side-by-side.  In FY 2009, the guaranteed student loan program administered about $64 billion in loans and the direct student loan program administered about $22 billion in loans.  Both programs offer the same varieties of repayment terms and low-interest loans.  They differ only with respect to the source of the loan funds--private lenders and the Federal government, respectively.  (Since they are loan programs, the actual federal budgetary costs are limited to administrative costs, fees, and anticipated defaults.)

The reform effort began earlier this year with an Obama Administration budget proposal to convert guaranteed student loans to direct government loans.  Budget savings would result by effectively removing the middleman from the lending process.  The Administration proposed to invest the savings in the Pell Grant Program and other education programs. 

Critics of the Administration plan have said the bill would eliminate thousands of jobs in the banking industry, and many have backed an alternative proposal by lending giant Sallie Mae that would preserve the role of private lenders in disbursing loans.  However, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), that approach would have netted less in budgetary savings.   CBO Analysis

CBO has estimated that the student loan provisions in the House-passed bill would save $89 billion over 10 years.  Under the bill, $47 billion over 10 years would be used to increase the availability and amount of Pell grants -- from $5,550 per student in 2010 to $6,900 in 2019. (The bill would also index maximum grant amounts to the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent.)

The bill would also provide $28 billion over 10 years in new direct spending for a number of education programs, including:  

  • $8.6 billion for community colleges;
  • $7.9 billion for the Early Learning Challenge Fund;
  • $4.1 billion to modernize facilities for K-12;
  • $3.0 billion for a College Access and Completion Innovation Fund;
  • $2.2 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and
  • $1.9 billion for education grants for veterans.

(Background on Pell Grants:  While the student loan programs provide the largest volume of student aid, the largest program in terms of federal expenditures is the Pell Grant program which provided grants to more than seven million undergraduates in 2009 at a cost of nearly $25 billion. A majority of Pell Grant funds are annual discretionary appropriations, which are boosted each year by additional mandatory spending.  For example, in 2010, the $5,550 Pell Grant is comprised of $4,860 in discretionary spending plus $690 in mandatory spending.)

The House passed HR 3221 as a free-standing bill, but also reserved the right to re-pass the measure as a budget reconciliation bill in the event that filibuster-protection is needed in the Senate.  It is also possible that Democrats may use reconciliation to protect health reform from filibuster (see the preceding article), in which case the health reform and student loan bills would be combined into a single reconciliation bill.

CBO Cost Estimate for HR 3221 

CBO Analysis of the Subsidy Costs of Direct and Guaranteed Student Loans

Increase in the Debt Ceiling could be a Vehicle for Deficit Reduction Commission

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent letters to congressional leaders on August 7, 2009 notifying them that the current $12.1 trillion "debt ceiling" is likely to be reached this fall (recent indications are that the ceiling will need to be raised in mid-November).  While there is no doubt that Congress will raise the debt ceiling -- they must do so as a practical matter -- the action will be a political lightening rod for rhetoric about fiscal responsibility.

Background.--Federal law contains a statutory limit on the Federal debt commonly called the "debt ceiling."  One might assume that a mechanism called the "statutory limit on the Federal debt" serves as a form of budgetary restraint or enforcement. However, the debt ceiling does not restrain the growth of Federal debt.  Rather than being an instrument of fiscal policy, the debt ceiling is a consequence of fiscal policy.

The debt ceiling applies to gross (total) federal debt--which is the sum of "debt held by the public" and "debt held by government accounts."  Gross debt grows for two reasons. First, as a consequence of deficits that occur when Congress approves Federal spending in excess of revenues. Second, gross debt increases because government trust funds are required to invest their surpluses in Treasury securities as a financial safeguard. These include the Social Security, Medicare, Highway, and Civil Service Trust Funds.  When trust fund surpluses are invested in Treasury securities, they become available to help finance annual deficits, along with funds borrowed from the public.

The issuance of Treasury securities is not discretionary.  As noted above, government trust funds must invest their cash in Treasury securities; and, in the case of annual deficits, once Congress has authorized agencies to enter into spending obligations that exceed federal revenues, the Treasury has no choice but to raise the necessary cash by issuing securities and adding to the accumulated debt.

Nevertheless, a statutory limit on outstanding federal debt has been in effect since 1940, when "debt subject to limit" stood at $43 billion.  Congress has increased the debt ceiling 90 times since it was first imposed.  Since the increases in the debt must occur in order to fulfill the obligations of the U.S. government and preserve the government's creditworthiness, many observers wonder why we have a statutory ceiling on the debt.

The short answer is that the debt ceiling is a political instrument--not a fiscal policy instrument.  Members of Congress concerned about annual deficits and increases in the accumulated debt have historically only been willing to increase the debt in relatively small increments to be certain that every time the debt ceiling is reached a fiscal policy debate will take place.  (Unfortunately, it also allows the more cynical members of Congress to feign "fiscal responsibility" by voting against authorizing more debt, without making the difficult spending and tax decisions required to balance the budget.)

Debt Ceiling as a Vehicle for Deficit Reduction Commission.--Since increasing the debt ceiling is "must-pass" legislation (because the Treasury must have the ability to raise cash to fulfill U.S. government obligations), the debt ceiling has often served as an attractive legislative vehicle to which Members of Congress can attach legislation--especially bills pertaining to the budget.  For example, this year's debt ceiling increase could be the vehicle for establishing a bipartisan national deficit reduction commission.

 

Appropriations Tracker

Overview

With the new fiscal year beginning October 1, 2009, it appears that only a few appropriations bills will make their way through House-Senate conference and to the President's desk on time.  (The five bills that have passed both chambers and are being conferenced are: Agriculture; Energy-Water; Homeland Security; Legislative Branch; and Transportation-HUD.  The Senate is currently considering the Interior-Environment appropriations bill.)  In order to keep the federal government operating, Congress will need to pass a "continuing resolution" that keeps agencies funded into October (usually at the lower of House-passed, Senate-passed, or last year's spending levels).

Increases over 2009 Spending:  According to a Congressiona Quarterly analysis, Congress plans to spend $75 billion or 7 percent more in FY 2010 than they did in FY 2009 on the 12 annual discretionary spending bills.

 

REVISED House Subcommittee (302(b) Allocations (among the 12 appropriations subcommittees)

Senate Subcommittee (302(b) Allocations (among the 12 appropriations subcommittees)

Click on the dates below for links to bill summaries.  If you have trouble with the Senate links download the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader or go to http://appropriations.senate.gov/ and click on "Subcommittees" for links to the documents.

 

House

Senate

Conf.

Pres.

Bill

 Sub.

Comm

Floor

 Sub.

 Comm

Floor

 

 

Agriculture

6/11 6/18 7/9 * 7/7  8/4

 

 

CJ

6/4

6/9

6/18 6/24 6/25

 

 

 

Defense

7/16
7/22 7/30
9/09 9/10

 

 

 

Energy-Water

6/25
7/8
7/17 7/8
7/9
7/29

 

 

Financial

6/25
7/7
7/16
7/8
7/9

 

 

 

Homeland

6/8 6/12

6/24 

6/17 6/18 7/9

 

 

Interior-Env

6/10 6/18 6/26
6/23
6/25

 

 

 

Labor-HHS

7/10 7/17 7/24
7/28 7/30

 

 

 

Legislative

6/9 6/12 6/19

 *

6/18 7/6

 

 

Mil Con-VA

6/16 6/23
7/10
7/6  7/7

 

 

 

State-For Ops

6/17

 6/23

7/9 

 *

7/9

 

 

 

Transp-HUD

7/13 

7/17
7/23

 7/29

7/30

9/17

 

 

 

*polled out (no formal subcommittee vote)


Earmark Disclosure

Earmark lists are available on the House Appropriations subcommittee websites and Senate earmark requests are linked to on the Senate Appropriations website.

Important Note

Following are links to the latest congressional action, plus a sampling of issues facing the appropriators as reported by Congressional Quarterly and Congress Daily. The numbers in parentheses are the FY 2009 regular appropriations level in billions (not including stimulus funds); the President's FY 2010 request; the House FY 2010 level; and the Senate FY 2010 level.

OMB SAPS

Statements of Administration Policy (SAPS) on the Appropriations Bills are available by clicking here.

Appropriations Bills

1. AGRICULTURE ($21.4 / P-$23.6 / H-$22.9 / S-$24.0) -- Major issues include increasing FDA funding; overhaul of the food safety system; whether to continue a ban on importation of Chinese poultry; a controversial animal identification system that grew out of concerns about mad cow disease; and the President's proposal to end direct payments to farmers with more than $500,000 in annual sales revenue.  Summary Table  House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

2. COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE ($57.7 / P-$64.6 / H-64.4 / S-$64.9) --  Major issues include the President's proposed 7% increase over the current year; funds to close Gitmo; a major Southwest Border Initiative; readiness of the Census Bureau for the upcoming census; NASA's post-space shuttle priorities; and a program to help states defray the costs of jailing illegal immigrants convicted of crimes. Summary Table    House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

3. DEFENSE ($631.9 / P-$640.1 / H-636.3 / S-636.3) not including military construction and housing which are funded in the Mil Con-VA bill -- Major issues include terminating the F-22 fighter program which has been plagued with operational problems and cost over-runs; funding for a 2d engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Figher program; funding for the C-17 transport plane, the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the Missile Defense Agency's Kinetic Energy Interceptor--all of which the Administration wants to end; proposed cuts in the Army's Future Combat Systems; and rising personnel costs.  (Note: the Administration has threatened to veto the Defense Authorization bills if they authorize further funds for the F-22 or disrupt the F-35 program.)   House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

4. ENERGY-WATER ($33.2 / P-$34.4 / H-$33.3 / S-$34.3) --  Major issues include how to fund the backlog of Army Corps water infrastructure projects; Defense environmental clean-up; funding for the Administration's "Re-Energyse" proposal (energy innovation centers); how to continue the big boost in renewable energy research after the stimulus bill's funds run out; funds to dispose of weapons grade plutonium under a new agreement with Russia; streamlining approval of new nuclear reactors; and the President's proposal to cut funding for the proposed nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain.  House Bill Summary  Senate Bill Summary

5. FINANCIAL SERVICES-GENERAL GOVT ($22.6 / P-$24.2 / H-$24.15 / S-$24.4) -- Major issues include U.S. policy toward Cuba; education vouchers in the District of Columbia; IRS funding; funding for states to upgrade voting equipment; and a provision requiring GM and Chrysler to reinstitute agreements with certain auto dealerships. Summary Table   House Bill Summary  Senate Report

6. HOMELAND SECURITY ($40.0 / P-$42.8 / H-$42.6 / S-$42.9) -- Major issues include funding efforts to find and deport illegal immigrants; whether to further fortify the fence being built along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border; whether to bar release of photos of terrorism detainees; allowing Gitmo detainees into the U.S.; whether the proposal to cut the DHS budget starting in 2012 is realistic; the system for providing federal disaster relief; reorganizing the Federal Protective Service; continuing an "antiquated" Coast Guard navigation system; and increased funding for road and rail security. House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

7. INTERIOR-ENVIRONMENT ($27.6 / P-$32.3 / H-$32.3 / S-$32.1) --  Major issues include boosting EPA funding; earmarks for water projects; eliminating a program to clean up diesel engines in California; adequacy of wildfire funding; drilling in federal lands and waters; and new taxes and fees on the oil and gas industry. House Summary Table   House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

8. LABOR-HHS-EDUCATION ($155 / P-$160.7 / H-$160.6 / S-$163.1) --  Major issues include rejecting the Administration's request to target NIH money at specific diseases; modifications and funding increases for the Pell Grant program; funding for school construction; increased funding for OSHA and LIHEAP; lifting a prohibition on federal funds for needle exchange; and eliminating abstinence-only sex education programs. Summary Table  House Bill Summary  Senate Bill Summary

9. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH ($4.3 / H-$4.9 / S-$4.5) -- Major issues include creating a fund to pay for renovation of the Capitol and House and Senate office building; and requests for more staffing at CBO and GAO.  House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

10. MILITARY CONSTRUCTION - VA ($72.9 / P-$77.7 / $H-77.9 / S-$76.7) -- Major issues include advance appropriating FY 2011 funds for VA health care; BRAC funding; housing for trainees; more funds for VA health care for treatment that is not service-connected; and funding for Guard and Reserve initiatives. (Since Jan. 2007, Congress will have increased the baseline for the VA by $20 b, a 58% increase.)  House Bill Summary   House Summary Table   Senate Bill Summary

11. STATE-FOREIGN OPERATIONS ($50.0 / P-$52.0 / H-$48.8 / S-$48.7) -- Major issues include the President's proposed 9% increase for the State Dept. and foreign aid programs; conditions attached to funds for the World Bank and IMF; dropping the "Mexico City" policy that prohibited use of international family planning funds for abortion; funding for Millennium Challenge Corporation (aimed at countries that adopt democratic and free-market policies); and funding for the U.N. Population Fund (which is strongly opposed by anti-abortion groups). House Bill Summary   Senate Bill Summary

12. TRANSPORTATION-HUD ($55.0 / P-$68.9 / H-$68.8 / S-$67.7) -- Major issues include how to make up the shortfall in gasoline tax revenues flowing into the highway trust fund; funding for high speed passenger rail and a national infrastructure bank; funding for a new air traffic control system; additional funding for low-income housing rental vouchers; increasing loan guarantees through the FHA; and capital and safety improvements to Washington's metrorail system.   House Bill Summary    Senate Bill Summary