The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The bill provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, the Small Business Administration, the General Services Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other independent agencies.
The bill includes a total of $19.9 billion in funding for the agencies, which is nearly $2 billion - or 9% - below last year's level, nearly $6 billion below the President's fiscal year 2012 request, and more than $700 million below the level enacted in 2008.
"This bill exemplifies the commitment of the Republican majority to reduce spending, dig our nation out of record deficits, and rein in unnecessary agency regulation and interference that obstructs economic growth. The funding in this bill is below the pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels of 2008, and important provisions are included to prevent government overreach in a variety of areas," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
"With the Federal debt exceeding $14 trillion, Congress has a responsibility to future generations to reduce the cost and size of government. This bill reduces spending by 9 percent while still providing funding for priority programs like assisting small businesses, funding drug task forces and terrorism and financial intelligence activities," Subcommittee Chairwoman Jo Ann Emerson said.
Department of the Treasury -- The bill includes $12.2 billion for the Treasury Department, which is $929 million below last year's level and nearly $2 billion below the President's request. Within this total, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will receive $11.5 billion -- $606 million below last year. This cut will trim excess spending within the agency, while maintaining services to taxpayers and the ability of the agency to collect revenues.
The bill also limits mandatory funds for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) to $200 million. This new agency created by the Dodd-Frank legislation has not yet been fully constituted and many questions remain as to its authority and mission. The bill also includes language that will subject the BCFP to annual appropriations starting in 2013, thus increasing annual oversight and making the agency more transparent and accountable to the taxpayer.
In addition, the bill limits funding for the Office of Financial Stability -- the office that administers the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) -- to $200 million, and terminates the failed Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that the House has already voted to eliminate.
Executive Office of the President -- The legislation contains $640 million for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) -- a reduction of $66 million below last year and $100 million below the request. This is a 5% reduction for EOP operating accounts, which is consistent with the 5% cut in operations for the House of Representatives, which passed earlier this year. This also reflects a 10% cut to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
In addition, the bill eliminates the "Youth Media Campaign," prohibits funds for the EOP to prepare "signing statements," which has been used in the past to undermine or circumvent laws passed by Congress, and requires reports on the costs and regulatory burdens caused by the flawed Dodd-Frank financial legislation.
General Services Administration (GSA) -- The bill provides no new funding for new federal building construction, but does provide $280 million for building repairs and alternations. These levels are the same as the ones provided in H.R. 1, which was approved by the House earlier this year.
Judiciary -- Included in the bill is $6.3 billion for the Federal Courts -- a reduction of $151 million below last year. This funding level trims most Judiciary programs, while providing small but necessary increases to court security, Supreme Court police, juror fees, and defender services.
District of Columbia -- The bill contains a $637 million federal payment to the District of Columbia -- $62 million less than last year's level and $80 million less than the request. Within these funds, the bill provides for important public safety and security programs, including increases to the D.C. Superior Court and the Offender Supervision Agency. In addition, the bill includes $60 million -- the full authorized level -- for the SOAR Act, which includes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.
The bill also maintains longstanding provisions prohibiting federal and local funds from being used for abortion, as well as prohibitions on federal funds from being used for needle exchange and medical marijuana programs in the District of Columbia.
Consumer Product Safety Commission -- $111 million -- $3.5 million less than last year and $10.7 million less than the President's request -- is provided for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The bill also prohibits funding for the flawed and unverifiable "Consumer Product Database" that the House voted to eliminate earlier this year as part of H.R. 1.
Federal Communications Commission -- The legislation contains $319 million for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) -- a decrease of nearly $17 million below last year's level and $40 million below the President's request. The bill includes identical language to H.R. 1 prohibiting funding for "net neutrality."
Securities and Exchange Commission -- Included in the bill is $1.2 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is equal to last year's level and $222 million below the President's request. The legislation includes a prohibition on funding for the new SEC "reserve fund," which would in effect operate as a slush fund for the SEC for programs that have not been approved by Congress.
Small Business Administration -- The bill contains $978 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA) -- $249 million more than last year's level and $7 million below the request. Small business loans -- which have seen marked increase in demand and higher subsidy costs due to the current economic situation -- receive an increase of $128 million. The disaster loan program also receives an increase of $122 million to maintain operations, given the depleted supply of emergency funding which has been used for this program in previous years.
Other Legislative Provisions -- The legislation contains several policy provisions, including:
* A longstanding prohibition against the use of federal funds for abortion within Federal employee health benefits;
* A provision strengthening the prohibition of "Czars" that was originally included as part of H.R. 1 -- specifically prohibiting funding for Czars related to health care, climate change, the auto industry, and urban affairs or any substantively similar positions;
* A prohibition on funds for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund; and
* A prohibition on funds for a requirement that entities applying for federal contracts disclose campaign contributions.