Budget Update: FY14 Begins, FY13 Finally Wrapping Up


March 14, 2013
Allison Grossman, Senior Legislative Associate

The fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget and appropriations season is heating up in Congress, but FY 2013 is still making news too. Here’s a round-up of what’s going on in Congress and what we can expect moving forward for the International Affairs account, which includes critical poverty-focused foreign assistance programs.

Fiscal Year 2014

Even with 2013 still in flux (see below for a full update), Congress is delving into FY 2014. This year has started off on a course different from the usual pattern — Congress is proceeding with the FY14 process even before the president releases his 2014 budget request. We&rquo;re expecting the president’s request to be released at the end of the month, but rumors are flying that it might not come out until even later.

FY14 House and Senate Budget Resolutions:

The first step in the congressional process for FY14 is the House and Senate budget resolutions (for more information on the budget and appropriations process, see our guide). House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) revealed the FY 2014 House Budget Resolution on Tuesday of this week; the budget of Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) came out Wednesday.

The House proposal is very similar to last year’s, with drastic cuts to the U.S. and global poverty programs that RESULTS volunteers care so much about. For instance, the House budget would result in a seven percent cut for International Affairs programs from FY13 levels (after sequestration). That also translates to a total reduction of 25 percent from 2010 levels.

The Senate proposal presents a much more optimistic picture for poverty-focused programs at home and abroad. As the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition reports, Chairwoman Murray’s budget provides a 9.6 percent increase for International Affairs from FY13 post-sequestration levels, which is also an 18 percent increase over the levels in the House budget proposal.

Both chambers will consider their FY14 budget proposals next week. It is expected that the House will pass Chairman Ryan’s budget easily, and the Senate will pass Chairwoman Murray’s version. But because the proposals are so extremely different, it is not expected that Congress will come together with a unified budget. However, these budgets are important because they set the allocations that guide overall funding available to each chamber’s Appropriations Committee — and it is especially important that the Senate retains the strong numbers for International Affairs.

FY14 Appropriations Process:

As the budgets are being finalized, the Appropriations Committees are also beginning their work. Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee released deadlines for when members of Congress (MOCs) must submit their FY14 funding requests. All requests for foreign affairs programs are due to the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittees by April 15; instructions for MOCs are online.

This means that your members of Congress must receive your appropriations requests well before the April 15 deadline. Be sure to check with your congressional offices as soon as possible to find out about their internal deadlines, and use RESULTS’ appropriations materials to submit your requests soon.

Sequestration

As we discussed back in January, the last-minute budget deal Congress and the president hammered out just before the New Year delayed the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration until March 1, 2013. Between that deal and the beginning of March, Congress failed to reach a deal to avert sequestration; hence, the across-the-board cuts took effect March 1.

You’ve likely heard about some of the impact sequestration will have both in the short-term and long-term, if it stays in place through the end of the fiscal year — everything from longer lines at TSA to hundreds of thousands of InterAction posted more information on how much some of the accounts we care about will be cut in FY13, including Global Health and Development Assistance.

At this point, we’re seeing little momentum in Congress to come together to reduce the impact of these cuts, either by averting sequestration entirely going forward or by allowing increased flexibility to distribute the cuts (instead of across-the-board cuts) that allow for prioritization of life-saving programs.

Fiscal Year 2013

Now that we’re facing sequestration for the long haul, the next deadline Congress must confront is March 27 — which is when the continuing resolution (CR) that is currently funding the government expires. In order to keep the government running, Congress must pass a spending bill before March 27 to fund the government through the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

Congress seems to be on top of this one. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee revealed details of their CR. The bills are similar — both continue to fund the government at FY12 levels for the remainder of 2013, minus the five percent cut mandated by sequestration and with an additional 0.1 percent cut for security accounts (which includes foreign aid programs).

Each bill contains exceptions for specific programs. These exceptions are further outlined in the latest Budget Update of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Most notably, the Senate CR increases funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria to $1.65 billion — an amount that is higher than last year and equal to RESULTS’ request! We will be monitoring Congress’s next steps to advocate that the higher number for the Global Fund makes it in the final version of the bill.

The Senate is looking to pass their bill this week, after which the House and the Senate will come together to hammer out their differences and develop the final CR to send to the president’s desk — hopefully before the March 27 deadline.

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