Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
House Appropriations Begins Subcommittee Markups But Postpones Full Committee Markups

Despite unfinished debt ceiling negotiations, which have shaped the thinking of members of Congress on the fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending level for the annual budget of the government, the House has moved forward on marking up its first spending bills. The Senate is expected to begin markups of its annual appropriations bills in June. 

The first spending bill from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies was voted out by voice vote to full committee. Ranking Member Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said she was “sicken[ed] and saddened” by this bill and could not support it. She also called it nothing more than a messaging bill which underfunds our veterans. Within the bill is $938 million for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, which equals the president’s budget request but falls short of FASEB’s and the advocacy communities’ request of $980 million (see president’s budget request for FY 2024).

The Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies also held a subcommittee markup for its FY 2024 bill. Chair Andy Harris (R-MD) said the subcommittee’s discretionary allocation was $17.2 billion. By redirecting $8.15 billion in unobligated funds from the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, this bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies with an effective allocation of $25.3 billion–a decrease of only 2 percent, or $532 million, from FY 2023. It supports critical animal health programs while supporting rural America and increases funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) by $5 million from FY 2023 for a total of $460 million. Democrats criticized the bill as one that turns it back on rural America and returns agricultural funding to 2006 levels. It also makes it harder to equalize access, takes food assistance from vulnerable people, and exacerbates the cycle of poverty according to Democrats. Counting the redirected monies from the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which passed in the House (217–215) but will not be passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate, is a serious point of contention with Democrats since this is not actually in effect by law.

House Appropriations full committee markups were scheduled for May 23 for two spending bills, which includes Military Construction, and a report on interim suballocations. The full committee was also supposed to mark up for the Agriculture spending bill on May 24. However, on May 22 Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, announced a sudden postponement of these markups stating, “Given recent developments in the negotiations between Speaker McCarthy and the president, and in order to give the speaker maximum flexibility as talks continue, the committee will postpone this week’s markups.” No future date was announced. House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released her press release in response to the postponement stating the bills that were supposed to be marked up were the easy ones and it was not clear that any of the 12 appropriations bills would be passed on the House floor.