October 22, 2014

WASHINGTON BUDGET REPORT: FY 2010 Begins (October 1, 2009)

WASHINGTON BUDGET REPORT: FY 2010 Begins (October 1, 2009)
Health Reform: State of Play Recent Examples of Why Deficit Reduction is Difficult October 1: Fiscal New Year, CRs, Omnibus Bills, and Govt Shutdowns FDIC Running Out of Cash due to Bank Failures Appropriations Tracker

Announcements

Quick Read

You can jump down to any of this week's articles by clicking on the headlines above.  

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. 

Support

The Concord Coalition relies on support from people like you, across the country, who are concerned about our nation's fiscal policy. If you find the Washington Budget Report and our website resources interesting and useful, we invite you to visit http://concordcoalition.org/act/donate and consider making a tax-deductible contribution today in support of The Concord Coalition's work.

Archives 

http://washingtonbudgetreport.com/archives.php (Jan '07 - June '08)
http://www.concordcoalition.org/publications/budget-reports (June '08 through latest issues)

Budget Process: Step-by-Step

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. 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 passed Congress on September 30 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"
  • Sept. 29: Senate Finance Committee mark-up continued into its second week
  • 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.

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   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
  • 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. 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."

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.

11. 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).
  • Sept. 30: Senate action delayed with dissident Senators seeking unemployment benefits for all 50 states

Health Reform: State of Play

Finance Committee defeats public option amendments

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee resumed its markup of the Baucus health reform bill and defeated 15-8 an amendment by Senator Jay  Rockefeller (D-WV) to add a public option to the bill.  Later in the afternoon, the committee defeated a public option amendment by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) but by a narrower 13-10 vote. (Instead of a public option, the Baucus bill would enable nonprofit "co-ops" to compete with insurance companies in the new insurance "exchanges.")  Rockefeller and Schumer are expected to offer public option amendment(s) on the Senate Floor--where a lengthy debate is anticipated.  Supporters argue that a public option is needed to force insurance companies to lower premiums to affordable levels.  A recent poll by Health Care for America Now and reported by Congress Daily found that 64% of Americans oppose a mandate to purchase health insurance, but the opposition drops to 37% with a public option.

Hoyer says House Floor action on health reform may be delayed

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged earlier this week that House Floor action on health reform could slip into late October. House leaders face the challenge of combining the three committee-reported bills (Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce, and Education & Labor) and doing so in a way that garners 218 votes for passage.  This is not a sure thing given ongoing disagreements between the Progressive Caucus and the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs.  (Background: A one month delay would still allow Democratic leaders to opt for filibuster-proof reconciliation procedures to be used as a procedural fallback since the October 15 reconciliation reporting date in this year's Budget Resolution is not an enforceable deadline.)

Baucus Plan Exempts Hospitals from Medicare Commission Oversight

Tuesday's Congress Daily reports that Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus' health reform plan exempts the hospital industry from the oversight of a new Medicare Commission charged with finding and implementing Medicare cost savings.  "Hospitals would be exempt from the commission's ax, according to committee staff and hospital representatives, because they already negotiated a cost-cutting agreement with Baucus and the White House....A committee aide and a spokeswoman for the American Hospital Association reiterated that hospitals received a pass based on the $155 billion cost-cutting deal already in place."  The bulk of the $155 billion is comprised of $100 billion from reducing projected hospital "market basket" updates, and roughly $50 billion from reducing "DSH" payments to hospitals that care for a disproportionate share of uninsured patients.

Medicaid expansion and the States

Congress Daily reports that "at least 14 Republican governors have sent or will send letters to their congressional delegations claiming the Democrats' health care plans will bankrupt the states," due to the fact that Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments.

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; Energy & Commerce; and Education and Labor), which will have to be merged before House Floor consideration.  
  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 by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) based on bipartisan negotiations among the "Gang of Six," but currently supported only by committee Democrats.  Modification to Chairman's Mark     Original Chairman's Mark
  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

Recent Examples of Why Deficit Reduction is Difficult

Shielding Wealthy Retirees from Contributing More to Medicare

Last week, the House nearly unanimously passed a bill (HR 3631) that would have the effect of shielding wealthy retirees from higher Medicare premiums.

Background.--Social Security recipients are not scheduled to get a cost -of-living adjustment (COLA) in their benefits next year because of low inflation in the economy.  At the same time, premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers physician services and outpatient care, are expected to rise.  Because most seniors have Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security benefit checks, the lack of a COLA would mean an effective reduction in Social Security benefits.  However, there is a "hold harmless" provision in federal law that shields most Medicare beneficiaries from having to pay a Part B premium increase if it would have the effect of lowering their monthly Social Security benefits.

Medicare beneficiaries who are not shielded from the Part B premium increase include seniors with incomes above $85,000 if they are single and $170,000 for couples.  Their monthly premiums would rise from $96.40 to $104.20.  (The premium increases would also impact low-income seniors who receive benefits from Medicare and Medicaid.)

The bill passed by the House last week (HR 3631) would expand the hold harmless so that no Social Security recipients (including high-income) would see their monthly Social Security check decrease because of a Part B premium increase.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was one of only 18 House members voting against the bill, saying "I don't know how many of you go to sleep at night worried about whether Ross Perot can pay his premium, but this will freeze Ross Perot's basic premium from going up. I think that, as well-meaning as this legislation is, it is not about poor seniors." 

This is one small example of how difficult it is for Congress to make any changes in Medicare premiums, even where the changes impact high income beneficiaries.

Will the Independent Medicare Commission be a Toothless Tiger?

As noted above in the health reform update, the Baucus health reform plan would reportedly exempt hospitals from future scrutiny by the proposed "Independent Medicare Advisory Commission" due to the hospitals' agreement not to oppose $155 billion in savings from hospitals over the next 10 years.  While we understand the political impetus behind this "agreement," we have serious concerns about how this reflects on Congress' ability to set the nation on a fiscally responsible path. 

The Independent Medicare Advisory Commission, first proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), is aimed at identifying and setting in motion changes in Medicare policies to reign in the unsustainable costs of America's fastest growing entitlement program.  Clearly, removing hospitals from the purview of the Commission would substantially limit its potential effectiveness.  Moreover, this sets a dangerous precedent of taking major items "off the table" before deficit reduction efforts have even begun. 

The nation is currently on an unsustainable fiscal path:  Medicare hospital insurance is already paying out more than it takes in; Social Security will be in the same position a few years from now; deficits will increase by $9.1 trillion over the next 10 years; annual interest payments will reach $799 billion by 2019; and debt held by the public will reach 100% of GDP by 2023.  Clearly, America's policymakers in Congress and the Administration need to enter into deficit reduction talks with all deliberate speed and without taking anything off the table.

CLASS: A New Entitlement on an Unsustainable Path

Another example of why deficit reduction continues to be extremely difficult is Congress' propensity for establishing new entitlements that cost little or nothing in the first several years, but predictably grow into expensive and unsustainable programs in the "outyears."  A current example is the CLASS program (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports), which would establish a voluntary, federally administered long-term care program.  Both the House and Senate health reform proposals include the CLASS program.   

Enrollment in the new long-term care program would be open to noninstitutionalized individuals who are either active workers or a spouse of an active worker. The average premium would be limited to $65 per month in 2011 and indexed for inflation in subsequent years. The benefit would be at least $50 per day and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) would set actual benefit levels according to the extent of an enrollee's impairment.  Benefits would be paid out of a new "trust fund" consisting of enrollees' premiums and interest. 

The legislation would provide considerable authority to the HHS Secretary to adjust premiums and benefits to maintain the solvency of the new trust fund. In the near term (2010-2019), CBO estimates that CLASS would reduce the budget deficit because premiums would be flowing in and benefits would not begin to pay out until enrollees have been in the program for at least five years.  However, CBO states in its cost estimate that "if the Secretary did not modify the program to ensure its actuarial soundness, the program would add to future federal budget deficits in a large and growing fashion beginning a few years beyond the 10-year budget window." 

Can we afford to establish a new entitlement whose solvency is based on the hope that a Secretary of HHS will have the political courage and presidential and congressional backing to raise premiums and lower benefits?

 

October 1: Fiscal New Year, CRs, Omnibus Bills, and Govt Shutdowns

Fiscal Year 2010 begins today (Thursday, 10/1) and Congress will have completed action on only one of its appropriations bills--funding for the Legislative Branch--necessitating enactment of a continuing resolution to avoid the dreaded “government shutdown.”

Background.--In recent years, appropriations bills have seldom been completed by the start of the new fiscal year. In the last 33 years Congress has, only four times, completed all of its annual appropriations bills by the start of the new fiscal year.

However, the Constitution is very clear that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” In addition, in 1870 Congress enacted the Anti-Deficiency Act strictly prohibiting Federal programs from operating without specific budget authority appropriated by Congress. Put simply, without appropriations, Federal managers have no legal authority to obligate the U.S. government’s resources. Federal managers who attempt to do so are subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution.

Therefore, when appropriations are not enacted by October 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, Federal departments and agencies must shut down (although special provisions permit certain “essential government employees” to continue working).

To avoid a shutdown of government programs not funded by the start of the fiscal year, the Congress typically passes stop-gap measures called “continuing resolutions” or “CRs.” These joint resolutions of Congress (requiring presidential signature) authorize agencies to continue current programs for a period of time according to a formula, usually the previous year’s levels, or the lower of the funding levels in either the House-passed or Senate-passed bill. (The CR for FY 2010 funds most programs at their 2009 funding level through the end of October.)  The number of continuing resolutions needed until all programs are funded for the new fiscal year can vary dramatically depending on how contentious the funding issues are.

CRs are also often used to temporarily extend expiring programs or limitations until legislative action has been completed.  The FY 2010 CR temporarily continues intelligence programs, Guantanamo Bay restrictions, stop-loss payments to US troops, child nutrition programs, surface and aviation transportation programs, numerous housing programs, flood insurance, certain visa programs, the "E-verify" program, the chemical facility security program, and the Ryan White AIDS funding program.

In addition to temporarily continuing funding to avoid government shutdowns, continuing resolutions are also frequently used as the legislative vehicle for “omnibus appropriations bills.” These are bills that package together all of the unfinished appropriations bills.  

There is much opposition to the use of omnibus appropriations bills both within and outside the Congress, because the sheer length of the bills makes it impossible for any Member of Congress to exercise anything close to due diligence in understanding the totality of what they are voting on. Yet, getting to closure on the new year’s funding levels at the end of a congressional session very often leads to the legislative vehicle everyone loves to hate—the omnibus appropriations bill. (In recent years, when eight, ten, or all of the regular appropriations bills are packaged together, they are referred to as an omnibus appropriations bill. When four or five bills are packaged together, it has become common—in budget-speak—to call them a “minibus.”)

For example, for FY 2010, Congress may pass separate conference reports for five or six appropriations bills that were acted on by both the House and Senate (and subsequently conferenced), with a minibus covering the remaining bills attached to a CR later this fall.

When fiscal politics become extremely intense, Congress and the President have on occasion failed to enact continuing resolutions to avert a shutdown of Federal departments and agencies at the start of the fiscal year. The longest such shutdown, causing the furloughing of 284,000 employees, lasted for three weeks, from December 16, 1995, through January 6, 1996. President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders were in a tense standoff over tax cuts and proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, education and environment programs, and AmeriCorps.

Following the shutdown of FY 1996, there have been numerous proposals to prevent future shutdowns by providing for “automatic continuing resolutions” when funding deadlines are missed. However, because of the intense political fallout from the standoff of 1996 (primarily blaming Congress for the shutdown), recent Congresses have studiously avoided shutting down the government, eliminating any political momentum for enacting an “automatic CR.”

FDIC Running Out of Cash due to Bank Failures

The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) has announced its intention to seek prepayment of insurance premiums by member banks in order to overcome a significant cash shortfall due to nearly 100 bank failures this year. The proposed rule would require prepayment of estimated assessments for the fourth quarter of 2009 and all of 2010, 2011, and 2012. The FDIC estimates that the total prepaid assessments collected would raise $45 billion.

If FDIC is unable to raise sufficient cash through the prepayment proposal, it would have to resort to its line of credit with the Treasury which would result in additional Treasury borrowing and increased deficits.

However, FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said, "It's clear that the American people would prefer to see an end to policies that look to the federal balance sheet as a remedy for every problem. In choosing this path, it should be clear to the public that the industry will not simply tap the shoulder of the increasingly weary taxpayer. This proposal is a vote of confidence for the banking industry's resilience, and it will continue to recover its strength as we work through the significant challenges ahead."

According to the FDIC release, "as of June 30, FDIC-insured institutions held more than $1.3 trillion in liquid balances, or 22 percent more than they did a year ago. Prepaying assessments will put the industry's liquid balances to good use in conserving capital and helping to maintain the capacity of banks to lend while they rebuild the DIF (Deposit Insurance Fund).  FDIC analysis indicates that this arrangement is much less likely to impair bank lending than a one-time special assessment."

Appropriations Tracker

Overview

This week the Senate is continuing debate on the $636 billion FY 2010 defense appropriations bill.  

Increases over 2009 Spending:  According to a Congressional 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.

BILL

House

Senate

Conference

Pres.

Sub

Comm

Floor

Sub

Comm

Floor

House

Senate

 

Ag


6/11

6/18

7/9

*


7/7 

8/4

 

 

 

Com-Just-Sci


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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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; 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