House & Senate Leaders Cautiously Optimistic on Appropriations

Despite the fact that Congress has not managed to complete all individual appropriations measures before the end of the fiscal year since 1994, Republican leadership in both chambers are thinking optimistically about FY 17 funding.  Their repeated goal is to begin work earlier and be diligent in their efforts to have each of the 12 funding bills on the President’s desk by September 30, 2016.  Such a goal would preclude the need for continuing resolutions or the massive, omnibus funding roll-ups that have become the norm rather than the exception.

Much of the optimism seems to stem from the October 2015 budget deal.  That deal raised discretionary spending caps for two years (through FY 17) which, hopefully, will eliminate the budget fights on how to spend limited funds within an appropriations account.  There is a downside, however.  This is a presidential election year which means those running for election or reelection are more likely to want to spend time stumping in their districts and less likely to want to make tough, potentially unpopular funding decisions just before the public goes to the polls.

The Administration’s FY 17 budget request will be submitted to Congress next Tuesday (February 9).  It remains to be seen whether Congress will maintain its appropriations enthusiasm when the numbers are revealed.  ASDWA will continue to monitor and report on the appropriations process as it unfolds.