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Appropriations Watch: FY 2022

Jul 26, 2021 | Other Spending

Congress started marking up individual appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 in June. Discretionary spending levels are no longer subject to caps, as they were for the 10 years between FY 2012 and FY 2021. The Biden Administration recently released its full FY 2022 budget with a discretionary funding request of $1.522 trillion, 8.6 percent more than the FY 2021 level.

Congress is supposed to complete a budget resolution to lay out fiscal principles and set an appropriations level, but lawmakers have not adopted one. Lawmakers have instead used a procedure known as "deeming," allowing the Appropriations Committees to begin their work assuming adherence to an overall discretionary spending level known as a 302(a).

The House adopted a deeming resolution on June 14, and leaders subsequently scheduled markups for all 12 appropriations bills. The Senate has not yet moved on a deeming resolution and is not scheduling markups at this time. Lawmakers may also try to adopt a budget resolution later this year that triggers the use of reconciliation for future policy priorities.

As we did last year, we'll be tracking the bills as they move from committee to the House and Senate floor and onto the President's desk.

The table below shows the status of each appropriations bill. To learn more about the appropriations process, read our Appropriations 101 report. 

Appropriations will be one of several deadlines Congress will face over the coming months. See a list of the upcoming fiscal deadlines here.

Appropriations Watch: FY 2022
Item House   Senate              
Budget Resolution N/A   N/A
302(b)

Approved by full committee on June 29 by a vote of 33 to 25

  N/A
Agriculture

Approved by subcommittee on June 25 by voice vote; approved by full committee on June 30 by voice vote; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
Commerce, Justice, Science

Approved by subcommittee on July 12 by voice vote; approved by  full committee on July 15 by a vote of 33 to 26; possible House floor consideration scheduled the week of July 26

  N/A
Defense 

Approved by subcommittee on June 30 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 13 by a 33 to 23 vote

  N/A
Energy and Water Development

Approved by subcommittee on July 12 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 16 by a 33 to 24 vote; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
Financial Services and General Government

Approved by subcommittee on June 24 by voice vote; approved by full committee on June 29 by a vote of 33 to 24; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
Homeland Security

Approved by subcommittee on June 30 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 13 by a vote of 33 to 24

  N/A
Interior, Environment

Approved by subcommittee by voice vote on June 28; approved by full committee on July 1 by a 32 to 24 vote; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
Labor, HHS, Education

Approved by subcommittee on July 12 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 15 by a vote of 33 to 25; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
Legislative Branch

Approved by subcommittee on June 24 by voice vote; approved by full committee markup on June 29 by a vote of 33 to 25; possible House floor consideration scheduled the week of July 26

  N/A
Military Construction, VA 

Approved by subcommittee on June 25 by voice vote; approved by full committee on June by a 33 to 24 vote; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A
State, Foreign Operations

Approved by subcommittee on June 28 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 1 by a vote of 32 to 25; possible House floor consideration scheduled the week of July 26

  N/A
Transportation, HUD

Approved by subcommittee on July 12 by voice vote; approved by full committee on July 16 by a 33 to 24 vote; House floor consideration expected the week of July 26 as part of seven-bill minibus

  N/A

Sources: House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, Congress.gov. All dates are in 2021 unless noted otherwise.

As we explain in Appropriations 101, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approve 302(b) spending levels for each subcommittee after the topline 302(a) levels are determined by the Budget Committees. Below is an excerpt (click here to read the full report).

How does Congress determine the total level of appropriations?

After the President submits the Administration’s budget proposal to Congress, the House and Senate Budget Committees are each directed to report a budget resolution that, if passed by their respective houses, would then be reconciled in a budget conference (see Q&A: Everything You Need to Know About a Budget Conference).

The resulting budget resolution, which is a concurrent resolution and therefore not signed by the President, includes what is known as a 302(a) allocation that sets a total amount of money for the Appropriations Committees to spend. For example, the conferenced budget between the House and Senate set the 302(a) limit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 at $1.017 trillion.

In the absence of a budget resolution, each chamber may enact a deeming resolution that sets the 302(a) allocation for that chamber. Both the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA18) and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (BBA19) gave the Chairs of the Budget Committees authority to set the 302(a) allocation for the Appropriations Committees at the statutory discretionary spending cap levels set by those budget deals for four consecutive fiscal years, including at $1.298 trillion for the current fiscal year (FY 2021).

Discretionary spending has been subject to statutory spending caps since FY 2012, though the current fiscal year will be the last those caps will be in effect. The Budget Control Act of 2011 set discretionary caps through the end of FY 2021, which have been modified by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019.

How will this year's appropriations process be different?

Discretionary spending levels for FY 2022 and future years will no longer be limited by the caps specified under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Leaders of the House and Senate Budget Committees now essentially have the power to set the overall appropriations amount, determined by the 302(a) allocation, at whatever level they consider necessary to cover all the priorities that are funded by the discretionary budget.

The discretionary spending level lawmakers choose for FY 2022 could shape the trajectory of spending for the next decade. Discretionary funding is expected to grow each year, but the extent of that growth could be constrained with a new agreement on spending caps. Agreement on future discretionary spending could also improve the budget process, leading to more timely enactment of legislation.

How does Congress allocate appropriations?

Once they receive 302(a) allocations, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees set 302(b) allocations to divide total appropriations among the 12 subcommittees dealing with different parts of the budget. The subcommittees then decide how to distribute funds within their 302(b) allocations. The 302(b) allocations are voted on by the respective Appropriations Committees, but they are not subject to review or vote by the full House or Senate. The table below lists the FY 2021 regular (non-war, non-disaster) appropriations along with the House and Senate FY 2022 302(b) allocations.  The table will be regularly updated as both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees release their 302(b) allocations.

The table below compares actual funding for FY 2021 with the FY 2022 302(b) allocations from the House and Senate. 

Budget Authority Allocations to Appropriations Subcommittees (billions)
Subcommittee FY 21 Enacted Level President's FY 22 Budget House FY 22 Senate FY 22
Agriculture $23.4 N/A $26.6 N/A
Commerce, Justice, Science $71.1 N/A $81.3 N/A
Defense $627.3 N/A $705.9 N/A
Energy and Water Development $49.5 N/A $53.2 N/A
Financial Services and General Government $24.4 N/A $28.5 N/A
Homeland Security $51.9 N/A $52.8 N/A
Interior, Environment $36.1 N/A $43.4 N/A
Labor, HHS, Education $174.1 N/A $237.5 N/A
Legislative Branch $5.3 N/A $6.0 N/A
Military Construction, VA $112.8 N/A $124.5 N/A
State, Foreign Operations $47.5 N/A $62.2 N/A
Transportation, HUD $74.7 N/A $84.1 N/A
Total $1.298 trillion* $1.522 trillion $1.506 trillion^ N/A

Sources: House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, CBO estimate of H.R. 133, Office of Management and Budget. 

*In addition to base discretionary appropriations provided in the table, final FY 2021 spending measures also included a total of $77 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations spending, $68.65 billion of which is designated for the Department of Defense, $8 billion of which is designated for the Department of State, and $350 million of which is designated for military construction. Including OCO funds, disaster relief, emergency requirements, and program integrity, FY 2021 spending measures provided $1.616 trillion in budget authority.

^According to the House Budget Committee, the deeming resolution incorporates certain technical and scorekeeping adjustments to translate the topline appropriations number from the President's budget request into a formal 302(a) allocation. The House deeming resolution provides for $1.506 trillion in regular appropriations for FY 2022 subject to 302(b)s, but all 12 appropriations bills are expected to total the administration request of $1.522 trillion once technical adjustments are considered.

As Congress considers appropriations bills, it is important that lawmakers avoid budget gimmicks and stick to the discretionary funding limits in current law until and unless they can agree on a fiscally responsible plan to amend the caps.

If you have any questions about terminology or the appropriations process, please see our Appropriations 101 report, and stay tuned to our blog for continuing coverage.