The House narrowly (212-206) passed a FY2011 appropriations bill that funds the government for the rest of the year at $1.1 trillion, essentially at the FY2010 level and $45 billion less than the president requested. The bill, entitled the “Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011,” is much more than just a simple continuing resolution (CR). In over 400 pages, it provides detailed instructions on the funding levels and authorities for a large number of programs. Some programs receive additional funding to address administration and members’ priorities, while others receive less than they did in FY2010. And, the bill approves the president’s proposal to freeze federal civilian employees pay in 2011 and 2012. According to a summary released by the House Appropriations Committee, examples of large programs receiving more FY2011 funding than provided in FY2010 include: nuclear weapons programs (to fund a new START treaty if approved by the Senate); VA medical operations; pay and Health requirements for DoD; Pell education grants; and Social Security and Medicare operations. Other programs, such as the census and DoD’s base closure efforts receive less because of a lower level of activity expected in FY2011. Also, high-speed rail funding would be $1.5 billion less than in FY2010. Specifically for the Department of Defense, the bill funds a 1.4 percent military pay raise and allows the Secretary of Defense to request Congress to approve a transfer of funds in FY2011 for new starts, increases in production quantities, and for other requirements that did not receive FY2010 funding. The bill also extends military personnel special pays and bonuses that would have expired. In addition, the Navy would have the authority to buy 20 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) so it can implement the Navy’s preferred acquisition strategy. The bill also includes $159 billion for war costs in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, while the total DoD appropriations for FY2011 in the House bill is almost $5 billion higher than the FY2010 appropriated level in the bill, it is about $8 billion below the president’s request. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is said to be putting together an omnibus appropriations bill that details funding for all 12 appropriations. However, it is far from certain that the Senate will pass this measure. Senate Republicans are pushing for a CR that only extends into early next year so the new Congress can take final action. Earmarks present another hurdle to final completion of the bill. The House bill contains no earmarks, while the Senate bill is expected to have many earmarks. So, with only one week left before the target adjournment date, it is still not clear how the FY2011 appropriations stalemate will end.
House passes year-long FY2011 Continuing Appropriations bill
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Freezes or cuts in the US defense budget, which have been much discussed recently, risk more harm than good if the DoD agency impacted already has a small budget to begin with and its work is purely humanitarian. A case in point is the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), which has an annual budget under $100 million annually and has as its sole task the recovery and identification of our missing war dead, a gargantuan task considering that our country has over 82000 missing in action, over half of which are considered recoverable. Considering how underfunded JPAC is already, a freeze or cut of its budget would be a slap in the face to the World War II, Korean, Cold War, and Vietnam families who have already waited decades for their loved ones’ remains to be returned.? JPAC funding must be exempted from any blanket DoD freeze or cut.
I really feel that most of the earmarks should be left out of the bill. There are things that each senator wants to do for their state, but right now, if there are roads and bridges that need repair,then let the state government and the state taxpayers determine what and how much should be spent. We only need to fund enough to keep our government running and to do away with ALL programs that aren’t working. This has got to stop, WE can’t afford it, especially right now.
Outstanding programs, like Helmets to Hardhats, that has put more than 12,000 transitioning servicemembers to work in the construction industry (with annual salaries of more then $54,000), received no funding for FY2011. The “no earmarks rule” killed H2H, which is probably the best and most effective jobs programs ever created for veterans.