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Spending Decisions May Bypass Budget Plans for FY 15

In a rare bipartisan moment, it appears that the Chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Republican and Democrat respectively, may choose to move ahead with FY 15 appropriations work without waiting for the more traditional passage of a budget resolution.  While nonbinding, the resolutions set the top-line discretionary spending figures that form the basis for funding allocations across the 12 appropriations subcommittees.

Both Senate Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) are signaling that they expect to move out early on the FY 15 work and may begin to hold hearings as early as the end of February versus the more typical April timeframe.  It remains unclear how the usual “302(b)” funding allocations which divide the appropriations pie may or may not play into the funding discussions this year.  Both committees are already aware that FY 15 discussions come with an already identified top line figure of $1.014 trillion for discretionary spending.  That top line figure is further divided into $492.5 billion for domestic spending and $521.4 billion for defense.

It remains to be seen how a Congressional jump start on appropriations discussions and decisions will play against a delayed release of EPA’s (and all Federal Agencies’) budget request until March 4.