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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

FY2011 Appropriations in Budgetary Context

D. Andrew Austin
Analyst in Economic Policy

Amy Belasco
Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget

The 112th Congress is considering H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, which would fund the federal government’s discretionary programs for the remainder of FY2011, which began on October 1, 2010. H.R. 1473 represents a last-minute compromise reached on April 8, the eve of the expiration of the sixth short-term continuing resolution (CR) enacted to date. The current CR (H.R. 1373/P.L. 112-8) provides funding until April 15, 2011. If further funding is not provided, much of the federal government would be shut down.

The difficulty in reaching agreement on funding levels for the current fiscal year reflects a larger debate about how to restrain federal spending in the face of large deficits this year and in years to come. Much of the debate has focused on how various proposed funding levels compare to the FY2010 enacted level and President Obama’s FY2011 budget request. H.R. 1473 proposes a total federal spending level of $1.21 trillion, or $66.5 billion below the FY2010 enacted level and $78.5 billion below the President’s request.

All of the proposed funding levels include $159 billion in emergency spending for the Afghan and Iraq wars as proposed by the President. While funding levels for the Defense Department and other security-related agencies (defined here as Defense, Military Construction/Veterans’ Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security) have been reduced below the President’s request in H.R. 1473, those levels are slightly above FY2010 enacted levels.

Most of the debate about reducing spending has focused on discretionary spending for all other non-security areas ranging from Agriculture and Commerce to Transportation and Housing. For all non-security agencies, H.R. 1473 proposes a funding level of $421.7 billion—$42.0 billion or 4% below the FY2010 enacted level and $56.1 billion or 7% below the President’s request.

H.R. 1473 proposes a funding level of $23.8 billion or 2% above H.R. 1, which was passed by the House on February 19, 2011, and intended to return non-security spending to FY2008 levels. These comparisons are not precise because the $42 billion decrease relative to FY2010 enacted includes $17 billion in decreases to mandatory programs. A new CBO estimate suggests that H.R. 1473 reduces cumulative outlays by about $20 billion to $25 billion, largely because many of the changes to mandatory programs would have little effect on outlays.

Date of Report: April 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R41771
Price: $29.95

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