December 19, 2014

WASHINGTON BUDGET REPORT: October 19, 2009

WASHINGTON BUDGET REPORT: October 19, 2009
Health Reform: Finance Comm. Reports Baucus Plan; House Preserves Reconciliation Option Senators Seek to Link Debt Ceiling Increase to New Debt-Fighting Panel GAO Report on the Long-Term Fiscal Outlook; Final OMB/Treasury Statement on FY 2009 $1.42 Trillion Deficit Administration Announces Special Payment to Seniors in lieu of COLA 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

New additions to the following chronologies are in bold type.    

1. Economic Stimulus  (track expenditures at www.recovery.gov)

  • 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
  • Sept. 22: The House passed a bill (HR 3548) 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). 
  • Week of Oct. 19:  Senate will take up legislation that would provide 14 weeks of unemployment aid in all 50 states. Those in states with high jobless rates--defined as a three-month average rate of at lease 8.5%--would get an additional six weeks of benefits for a total of 20 weeks. 

2. 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 was signed by the President allowing government programs to continue operating at FY 2009 levels through October 31, 2009). 
  • 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. 

3. Stabilizing the Financial, Housing, and Auto Sectors

4. 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"
  • Oct. 7: CBO released cost estimate of Baucus plan
  • Oct. 13: Finance Committee votes to report Baucus plan by a vote of 14-9. 
  • 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. Ways & Means Committee sent its health reform bill to the Budget Committee on October 15 in order to preserve the reconciliation option.

5. 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  
  • 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
  • September 30:  Senators Kerry and Boxer introduce "Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act" -- Press Release
  • December: The Administration is hoping for legislative action in the Senate before U.N. climate change talks in Denmark in December.

6. 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.
  • October 1, 2009:  The FY 2010 CR includes a temporary extension of the expiring highway authorization bill. 
  • 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. 

7. Statutory PAYGO

  8. 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. 6: Senate HELP Committee Chairman Harkin says committee expects to get an "extension" from Senate Budget Committee to use budget reconciliation for higher ed bill
  • Oct. 15: Budget Resolution deadline for committees to report budget reconciliation legislation including student loan and Pell Grant reforms

9. 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."
  • October 14:  Senators send letter to Majority Leader Reid urging that provisions establishing a special deficit reduction panel be added to  impending debt ceiling legislation

10. 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.


Health Reform: Finance Comm. Reports Baucus Plan; House Preserves Reconciliation Option

Senate

The Senate Finance Committee voted on Tuesday to report Chairman Baucus' health reform plan by a vote of 14-9.  The vote was party line, with the exception of Maine Republican Olympia Snowe who voted for the measure. CBO Description and Preliminary Analysis of Finance Committee plan

Next step: Senator Majority Leader Reid (D-AZ) has convened negotiations to merge the Finance Committee bill with the Senate HELP Committee bill (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee). The HELP Committee plan (Kennedy-Dodd-Harkin) was voted out of committee on July 15, 2009.  HELP Committee Summary

As reflected in the Concord Coalition side-by-side comparison, the two bills differ significantly on four major points: (1) the HELP Committee bill includes a public option to compete with private insurance plans in the health exchanges, while the Finance bill has non-profit co-ops; (2) the HELP bill provides larger subsidies than the Finance bill for low income Americans to purchase plans through the exchanges; (3) the HELP bill is more expensive than the Finance Committee bill; and (4) the Finance Committee bill would create an independent Medicare Commission aimed at containing costs. Concord Coalition side-by-side

Senate negotiators face a difficult challenge as they attempt to produce a compromise Finance-HELP bill that can garner 60 votes in the Senate (to overcome a Republican filibuster), as well as meet President Obama's aim that the bill should cost about $900 billion over 10 years and his pledge that he will not sign a bill that increases deficits now or in the future.  The vote of Republican moderate Olympia Snowe (R-ME) may be key to reaching the 60-vote threshold.

Many commentators believe that Reid will have to bring a compromise bill to the Floor without a public option in order to get 60 votes.  Moderate Democrats Evan Bayh (D-IN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) have expressed doubts about a public option.

 Concord Coalition Letter to Senator Harry Reid on the Health Care Reform Bill

House

If Democrats are unable to muster 60 votes in the Senate, they can resort to a budget reconciliation bill--which is filibuster-proof and needs only 50 votes for passage, but has very tight restrictions on what may be included in the bill.  Provisions that are non-budgetary--such as insurance reforms that protect beneficiaries from pre-existing condition clauses and annual or lifetime caps--could not be included in a reconciliation bill.  This week, congressional Democrats acted to preserve the Reconciliation option by having the House Ways & Means Committee send its version of health reform to the Budget Committee as a reconciliation bill.

In addition, the House is continuing work on merging the three versions of health care reform reported by the Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, and Education & Labor committees. The three bills are much more similar than the two bills in the Senate.  All three bills include a public option. 

According to Congressional Quarterly, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), a deputy whip for House Democrats, has been working with the moderate New Democrat Coalition and the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and has concluded that "we do have the votes for the public option in the House."

More than half of the Democrats in the House (154) have signed on to a letter denouncing the Senate Finance Committee's plan to tax expensive "cadillac" insurance plans as a means to finance subsidies and hold down costs.  The letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urges her "to reject proposals to enact an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans that could be potentially passed on to middle-class families."

House leaders on October 7 presented to the House Democratic Caucus several approaches on how to structure a public option.  One version would be tied to Medicare rates; another would require the HHS Secretary to negotiate rates with providers; and a third public option would be subject to a trigger (similar to a proposal favored by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said House leaders are considering whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to anyone earning up to 150% of the poverty level (as in the Senate HELP bill). 

A vote on a merged House bill is unlikely to occur until November, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Looking Ahead to Conference

Key issues in conference will include: (1) a public option - the Senate may enter conference without a public option; (2) how to pay for the subsidies to low-income families and individuals; and (3) how to make the final bill deficit neutral in the first ten years and beyond.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a preliminary estimate of the Baucus Health Reform Plan (as amended in committee).  According to the CBO analysis, the plan would result in net deficit reduction of $81 billion over the first 10 years (2010-2019); and in subsequent years the trend "would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits."  

 

Senators Seek to Link Debt Ceiling Increase to New Debt-Fighting Panel

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent letters to congressional leaders in August notifying them that the current $12.1 trillion "debt ceiling" is likely to be reached this fall. (Recent indications are that the debt ceiling will need to be raised in mid-November.) 

On Wednesday, 9/14, 10 Senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-AZ) urging that a deficit reduction panel or special process be launched as part of the impending debt ceiling increase. Specifically, the Senators said “we strongly believe that as part of the debate to increase the debt limit, Congress needs to put in place a special process that allows Congress and the Administration to face up to our nation’s long-term fiscal imbalances – and allows for deliberation and a vote on a comprehensive package addressing these issues.”

The Concord Coalition agrees with the 10 Senators that a bipartisan deficit reduction panel should be put in place as soon as possible, and the debt ceiling legislation presents a timely and appropriate opportunity to initiate action.   

America’s fiscal policy is on a dangerous and unsustainable path.  Based on current policies, the public debt will grow by more than $9 trillion over the next 10 years and annual interest payments will reach $800 billion by 2019, consuming more than a third of total individual income tax collections. Debt held by the public will reach 82 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) by 2019 and 100 percent of GDP by 2023.

Moreover, with health care costs growing much faster than the overall economy, the baby boom generation retiring, and longevity increasing, the largest entitlement programs in the federal budget – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – are on unsustainable and worsening trajectories.

Tough choices need to be made, and the longer we wait, the more difficult the choices become. Health care costs need to be effectively contained to slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid; Social Security benefits need to be brought in line with revenues; defense and non-defense discretionary spending growth needs to be capped; a statutory PAYGO regime needs to enacted into law to ensure that all new tax cuts or expanded entitlement benefits are fully paid for; tax expenditures need to be carefully examined to see if their cost justifies lost revenues; and the widening gap between total revenues and total spending needs to be closed.

It is the responsibility of Congress and the Administration to place America’s economic future on a secure footing, for the sake of our children and future generations. Unfortunately, lack of political will and excessive partisanship is standing in the way.  The Senators who signed yesterday’s letter have concluded that a bipartisan panel – as proposed by Senators Conrad (D-ND), Gregg (R-NH), Lieberman (I-CT), Voinovich (R-OH), and others – is essential to breaking the political logjam and moving a comprehensive deficit reduction package through Congress. 

The Concord Coalition agrees. On October 31, 2007, Executive Director Robert Bixby testified before the Senate Budget Committee in favor of a debt-fighting commission emphasizing: (1) it must be truly bipartisan; (2) it must have a broad mandate; (3) there must be no preconditions; (4) it must engage the public; and (5) its recommendations should be guaranteed a vote in Congress (while allowing for deficit neutral amendments). 

Text of Letter

GAO Report on the Long-Term Fiscal Outlook; Final OMB/Treasury Statement on FY 2009 $1.42 Trillion Deficit

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released on Thursday its estimate of the "fiscal gap."  The fiscal gap is the amount of action needed--in terms of tax increases, spending reductions, or some combination of the two--for debt as a share of GDP to equal the 2009 level of 41%, at the end of 75 years.

According to GAO, the fiscal gap is $62 trillion in present value dollars which "means that revenue would have to increase by about 47 percent or noninterest spending would have to be reduced by 33 percent on average over the next 75 years to keep debt at the end of the period from exceeding its level at the beginning of 2009 (which was 40.8 percent of GDP)."   Other highlights of the GAO report (emphasis added):

  • "Roughly 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue will be spent on the major entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) and net interest costs by 2019."
  • "Health care cost growth and demographic trends that were once thought of as long-term challenges are already having a negative impact on the federal budget in the near term. The oldest members of the baby-boom generation are now eligible for Social Security retirement benefits and will be eligible for Medicare benefits in less than 2 years.  Meanwhile, Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund began running cash deficits in 2008....Social Security cash surpluses, which have been used to help finance other government activities, are projected to turn to cash deficits by 2016," (although benefits already exceed payroll tax revenues in 2010).
  • Current projections "show that the federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path. While this is similar to the results of previous simulations, the sense of urgency has increased....The longer action is delayed, the larger the changes necessary."
  • By 2030, interest payments, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will consume nearly all revenues leaving "little room for all other spending, which consists of what many think of as government, including national defense, homeland security, investment in highways and mass transit and alternative energy sources, plus smaller entitlement programs such as Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and farm price supports." 

GAO Report on Long-Term Fiscal Outlook

Also on the deficit front, Secretary of the Treasury Geithner and OMB Director Orszag released a joint statement on "Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2009," finding that the deficit for FY 2009 was $1.417 trillion.  The report, which you can link to below, includes final numbers on revenues, outlays, and expenditures by each department.

Treasury / OMB Statement on the FY 2009 Deficit

Administration Announces Special Payment to Seniors in lieu of COLA

The Social Security Administration confirmed on Thursday that, with consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security benefits will not automatically increase in 2010.  This will be the first year without an automatic COLA (cost of living adjustment) since COLAs were established in 1975.  By contrast, last year when consumer prices increased largely as a result of higher gas prices, beneficiaries received a 5.8% COLA--the largest since 1982.  Social Security News Release

Due to the impending COLA announcement, the Obama Administration announced on Wednesday they will seek legislation to send a $250 one-time check to beneficiaries in 2010--equivalent to a 2% COLA for most recipients.  The one-time checks are being characterized as "Economic Recovery Payments" to seniors, with the emergency designation allowing Congress to avoid finding offsets for the $13 billion in payments.  

From a fiscal responsibility perspective, the payments are troubling because they cast doubt on the political will of policymakers to take the necessary steps to place Social Security and other entitlements on a sustainable path.  

In addition to 49 million Social Security beneficiaries, the $250 checks would also go to 5 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries, 2 million veterans benefit recipients, a half million railroad retirement and disability beneficiaries, and a million public employee retirees.

White House Statement

 

Appropriations Tracker

Overview

This week the Senate passed the Energy-Water Conference Report, clearing it for the White House; the House passed the Homeland Security conference report sending the measure to the Senate; and House leaders are beginning discussions on a 2d continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running when the existing CR expires on October 31st.  To date, appropriations action has currently been completed on only 3 of the 12 regular appropriations bills: Agriculture, Energy-Water, and Legislative Branch.

Coburn Amendment.--Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said on Tuesday that he would attempt to block all future action on appropriations conference reports if they do not include his amendment to require public disclosure of all reports that federal agencies submit to the Appropriations Committees.

Increases over 2009 Spending:  According to a Congressional Quarterly analysis, Congress plans to spend $75 billion or 7 percent more in FY 2010 than 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.

BILL

House

Senate

Conference

Pres.

Sub

Comm

Floor

Sub

Comm

Floor

House

Senate

 

Ag


6/11

6/18

7/9

*


7/7 

8/4

10/7

10/8

 

Com-Just-Sci


6/4

 6/9


6/18

6/24

 6/25

 

 

 

 

Defense


7/16

7/22

7/30 

 9/09

 9/10

10/6

   

 

Energy-Water

6/25

 7/8


7/17

7/8

7/9

7/29

10/1

10/15

 

Fin Services

6/25 


7/7

7/16

 7/8

7/9 

 

 

 

 

Homeland Sec

 6/8


6/12

6/24

6/17

6/18

7/9

10/15

 

 

Interior-Env

6/10

6/18


6/26

6/23

6/25

9/24

 

 

 

Labor-HHS-Ed


7/10

7/17

7/24


7/28

7/30 

 

 

 

 

Leg Branch


6/9

6/12

6/19

 *

6/18 

 7/6

9/25

9/30

10/1

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 available 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; the President's proposal to end direct payments to farmers with more than $500,000 in annual sales revenue; and the allocation of funding between rural issues and FDA.  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; patent examiners working upaid overtime leading to turnover; 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; McCain amendment to eliminate unrequested C-17 cargo aircraft; 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