Legislative Activity

Congress Kicks Off Budget Process

This week, the Congressional fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget process begins in earnest, as the House and Senate Budget Committees hold budget hearings and various committees mark up their “Views and Estimates.” While President Barack Obama will not release his budget until February 9, Congress is not waiting as they seek to speed up the budget and appropriations process this year with the goal of passing all twelve individual appropriations bills before FY 2017 begins on September 1.

The House Budget Committee will hold a “Members’ Day” hearing to gather input from Representatives and a hearing on the Congressional Budget Office’s budget and economic outlook. House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) wants to stick with an accelerated schedule and is hoping to markup the House budget resolution by the end of February, allowing the House to consider the resolution on the floor early in March. The accelerated schedule would provide more time for the House and Senate to work out differences between their respective budget resolutions and to begin work on individual appropriations bills.

Other Congressional Committees will mark up their Views and Estimates to help guide the House and Senate Budget Committees as they draft their FY 2017 budget resolutions. The House’s Views and Estimates are due before the President’s budget is released, so while they will not provide an opportunity to respond to the President’s budget they do allow Committees to lay out their legislative agendas and budget priorities for the coming year. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Michael Enzi (R-WY) has asked Senate Committees to submit their Views and Estimates by February 22.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he wants to pass all twelve appropriations bills individually, it has been decades since Congress has accomplished that feat. However, top line numbers for FY 2017 were established in the recent budget agreement, which may facilitate the appropriations process.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, February 3: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on spending on unauthorized and expired programs.
  • Wednesday, February 3: The House Appropriations Committee, State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing on “Assistance to Combat Wildlife Trafficking.”
  • Wednesday, February 3: The House Budget Committee will hold a “Members’ Day” hearing to allow Members to testify on policy priorities for the FY 2017 Budget Resolution.
  • Thursday, February 4: The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The Congressional Budget Office’s Budget and Economic Outlook.”