House subcommittees finally get spending allocations

Capping off nearly seven weeks of protracted negotiation among House GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and ultimately President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, the House Appropriations Committee has finalized its 302(b) subcommittee allocations for fiscal 2004.

This year's budget resolution gave appropriators in both chambers a total of $784.7 billion in discretionary dollars to divvy up among their 13 subcommittees. But appropriators have objected to constraints in the budget resolution that effectively reduced their total allocation-that this year's congressional budget resolution is more than $2 billion less than the budget Bush proposed, and that GOP leaders and the Budget Committee added $7.6 billion in spending to the budget that they did not offset. As a result, appropriators and GOP leaders have for weeks been at loggerheads over how to cover those shortfalls.

Contrary to what they took to Bush Tuesday, which called for rescinding $3 billion from the fiscal 2003 wartime supplemental and re-appropriating it to the regular 2003 defense accounts, they agreed to simply reduce the 2004 defense spending allocation by $3 billion, according to a GOP source.

On top of the $3 billion reduction, they also plan to move $2.2 billion in advanced 2004 appropriations-primarily for education-back into 2003. In total, the plan gives appropriators another $5.2 billion to work with, without exceeding the $784.7 billion spending limit.

The House Appropriations Committee consequently has made the following 2004 allocations. In the list below, they are compared to each subcommittee's 2003 enacted allocation and what Bush requested in his 2004 budget. The 2003 enacted number listed does not include the 2003 supplemental, and the 2003 Labor-HHS appropriations number is adjusted to reflect the shift of the $2.2 billion back into 2003:

AGRICULTURE: $17 billion; $17.4 billion this year ; $17.1 billion under Bush.

COMMERCE-JUSTICE-STATE: $37.9 billion; $36.3 billion this year; $37.7 billion under Bush.

DEFENSE: $368.7 billion; $364.3 billion this year; $371.7 billion under Bush.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: $456 million; $509 million this year; $421 million under Bush.

ENERGY AND WATER: $27.1 billion; $25.8 billion this year; $26.9 billion under Bush.

FOREIGN OPERATIONS: $17.1 billion; $16.2 billion this year; $18.9 billion under Bush.

HOMELAND SECURITY: $28.5 billion; $21.9 billion this year; $27.5 billion under Bush.

INTERIOR: $19.6 billion; $19.76 billion this year; $19.55 billion under Bush.

LABOR-HHS: $138 billion; $134.4 billion this year; $137.99 billion under Bush.

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: $3.5 billion; $3.3 billion this year; $3.8 billion under Bush.

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION: $9.2 billion; $10.5 billion this year; $9.2 billion under Bush.

TRANSPORTATION-TREASURY: $27.5 billion; $27.78 billion this year; $27.8 billion under Bush.

VA-HUD: $90 billion; $87.1 billion this year; $89.4 billion under Bush.

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