Washington to Spend Trillions in 2014 (With No Debate or Transparency)

Congressman Kingston addresses Georgia EMC Washington Youth Tour

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) is the chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittee. He did not produce a funding bill for his committee, which is the responsibility of the committee chair.

Cross-posted from WashingtonWatch.

By Jim Harper

Congress failed to make funding decisions for fiscal 2014 on its regular time-frame, and now the debate on Syria has jumped to the front of the line. That means Congress is going to make some very last-minute decisions about spending in the fiscal year that starts October 1st. Even more last-minute than they had already planned.

The Hill’s “Floor Action” blog reports that the plan is for a three-month “continuing resolution.” That is, a bill that continues existing spending at about the current rate. Between Oct. 1 and the end of the year, congressional leaders would then figure out what spending for the rest of the 2014 fiscal year will be.

The continuing resolution will be offered to your member of Congress and senators as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. There will be few opportunities for amendments, as there would be if each of the appropriations bills had been passed this spring and summer.

debt-ceiling debate is also looming, and House Republicans plan to extract spending concessions from President Obama and the Democratic Senate when it does. That will be an interesting feature of congressional activity in the fall.

So while the Senate debates its authorization of military action in Syria (text here) this week, the House will debate and pass an as-yet-unseen continuing resolution.

Below, though, is an illustration of the bills that might have been passed had Congress followed the proper schedule. Perhaps one day, if Americans ask for it—and it’s your responsibility to ask for it if you want it—Congress will pass annual spending bills on time, so that there can be proper, transparent debate on the spending priorities of the federal government.

Bill House Senate
Budget Resolution* H. Con. Res. 25 ($26,705) S. Con. Res. 8 ($28,439)
Agriculture H.R. 2410 ($489) S. 1244 ($1,231)
Commerce/Justice/Science H.R. 2787 ($560) S. 1329 ($588)
Defense H.R. 2397 ($5,570) S. 1429 ($5,546)
Energy & Water H.R. 2609 ($364) S. 1245 ($379)
Financial Services H.R. 2786 ($388) S. 1371 ($431)
Homeland Security H.R. 2217 ($450) H.R. 2217† ($452)
Interior & Environment
Labor/HHS/Education S. 1284 ($7,161)
Legislative Branch H.R. 2792 ($33) S. 1283 ($31)
Military/Veterans H.R. 2216 ($1,474) H.R. 2216† ($1,496)
State/Foreign Operations H.R. 2855 ($418) S. 1372 ($461)
Transportation/HUD H.R. 2610 ($1,090) S. 1243 ($1,114)

Jim Harper is the Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute and on the Board of Directors at National Priorities Project.