On Thursday, December 8, 2016, the House will consider the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2028, the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017, under a rule. The Senate Amendment to H.R. 2028 – Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017 was posted publically on December 6, 2016, and is sponsored by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).
The Senate Amendment to H.R. 2028, in general, makes appropriations to fund government activities through April 28, 2017. The current temporary spending law, which runs through December 9, 2016, Public Law 114-223, was funded at the fiscal 2016 budget cap level of $1.067 trillion, while this bill would spend at an annualized rate at the 2017 cap of $1.07 trillion through April 28, 2017. To assure that the bill meets the$1.07 trillion spending cap, the bill contains a 0.1901 percent cut for all accounts, defense and non-defense that are not specified in the CR. Specifically, the bill does the following:
Overseas Contingency Funding (OCO) – The bill contains $10.1 billion in emergency war funding. Of that amount, the bill provides $5.8 billion for the Department of Defense and $4.3 billion for the State Department/USAID to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Including increases in base discretionary spending, the Defense level in the bill is $8 billion above the rate in the current Continuing Resolution. The Obama Administration sent a request to Congress for $11.6 billion in additional OCO funding on November 10, 2016.
Natural Disaster Relief – The CR contains $4.1 billion in disaster relief funding to address damages caused by recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, floods, drought, and other severe weather events. This includes: $1.8 billion for Community Development Block Grants to states to support recovery and rebuilding efforts for individuals with homes damaged by severe weather events; $1.025 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to flood and coastal storm protection projects and dredging; $1 billion for the Federal Highway Emergency Relief program to repair damaged highways; $206.1 million for emergency watershed protection and conservation; and $74.7 million to repair damaged NASA facilities.
Contaminated Drinking Water – The bill provides $170 million to address the infrastructure and health needs of those communities affected by contaminated drinking water. This includes grants for infrastructure improvements, lead poisoning prevention care for mothers and children, and a lead exposure registry, which will include the city of Flint, Michigan. According to the CBO, this funding is fully offset. S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which is expected to be enacted into law sometime during the week of December 5, 2016, authorizes the spending appropriated by this provision.
Funding for the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 – The bill includes $872 million in funding for H.R. 34, 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which passed the House on November 30, 2016, by a vote of 392 to 26. The bill increases funding for medical research, drug approval, and drug abuse efforts. This includes $20 million for the Food and Drug Administration Innovation account, $352 million for the National Institutes of Health Innovation account, and $500 million for states to respond to the opioid abuse crisis. According to the Committee, this spending is fully offset.
Defense Procurement—The bill would allow procurement funding to be used for the Ohio Class Submarine Replacement program; would allow funding to be used for Apache Attack Helicopter and Black Hawk Helicopter multiyear procurements; and would allow funding for the KC-46A Tanker program to avoid delays that would increase costs. Generally, under a continuing resolution, the Defense Department cannot engage in new types of procurement.
Strategic Petroleum Reserve—The bill would sell off roughly $375.4 million worth of crude oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in fiscal year 2017. The funds from the sale would be used for an “Energy Security and Infrastructure Modernization Fund” for needed infrastructure repairs. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil. The federally-owned oil stocks are stored in huge underground salt caverns along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.
Critical nuclear weapons activities—The bill includes a provision allowing funds to be used for critical nuclear weapons activities at the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration. The bill also provides $767 million in funding for the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund.
Homeland Security Operations—The bill includes a provision allowing funds to be used to continue Homeland Security operations, including border security, immigration enforcement, aviation security, and the protection of the President-elect.
Federal Aviation Administration—The bill includes a provision ensuring the continuation of Federal Aviation Administration air travel operations and safety activities.
Unaccompanied Alien Children –The bill would allow a transfer of $300 million, from certain funds administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the government to feed and house an influx of unaccompanied minors across the southern border, if needed, after February 1, 2017. Current estimates are that existing funds could run out in February. The bill also allows up to an additional $200 million for such activities after March 1, 2017, if the Secretary of HHS and the Secretary of Homeland Security determine it is needed. The new Administration will have the ability to decide if and when these funds are needed.
Trucking Hours–The bill would correct a drafting error in last year’s omnibus that could have greatly reduced the flexibility on the hours truckers can operate their vehicles, should the report on the restart rule (mandated in prior Acts) not meet the criteria set by Congress. The provision requires the Department of Transportation to follow the existing 34-hour restart “Hours of Service” rule for truck drivers to ensure continuity in federal rest regulations.
NASA’s Deep Space Exploration program—The bill allows funds for NASA’s Deep Space Exploration program to avoid delays that would increase long-term costs. The bill also enables NASA to have increased flexibility to maintain Space Launch System and Orion program schedules.
Joint Polar Satellite System—The bill allows funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System programs, provide data for weather warnings, including forecasts of severe weather events. The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the Nation’s new generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system. JPSS is a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its acquisition agent, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
District of Columbia School Vouchers (SOAR)—The bill allows use of unobligated funds for the District of Columbia Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) Grant program for the next academic year. The program provides vouchers to students and provides funds to improve school performance and educational outcomes and to provide facility funding in order to increase the number of high-quality public charter school seats in the District of Columbia.
Child Nutrition—The bill appropriates funding for Child Nutrition programs to allow new funds to be used to supply summer meals to low-income children.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—The bill authorizes the TANF program, which is designed to help low-income families achieve self-sufficiency, through April 28, 2017.
Coal Miner Health Benefits–A provision to provide $45 million for continued health care benefits for certain retired miners under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefit Plan through April 28, 2017. This prevents the immediate loss of health care coverage for these miners and their families, scheduled to expire on December 31, 2016. The bill will shift over $45 million at the Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association held by the United Mine Workers to cover the cost. The infusion of that $47 million to cover the immediate shortfall will reduce spending on Medicaid and Medicare which will save $45 million. CBO estimates that the provision will reduce spending by $2 million.
President-Elect Security— The bill would provide $7 million to partially cover the cost to the City of New York for providing security for President-Elect Donald Trump. The bill stipulates that the appropriation is only intended to offset the additional cost of personnel overtime associated with protecting the President-Elect. The City requested an additional $35 million in funding on December 5, 2016, to provide this additional security to the President-Elect at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan through inauguration.
Presidential Pension—The bill includes a White House request to allow President Obama to begin receiving his presidential pension at a rate of $157,000.
Senate Procedures to Consider a Waiver for the Secretary of Defense Nomination—The bill sets rules for Senate consideration of a bill to waive the President-elect’s nominee for Secretary of Defense from a law requiring former military officers to have been retired from active duty service for at least seven years prior to being nominated. President-Elect Donald Trump recently nominated Retired General James Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense. General Mattis retired in 2013 as chief of the U.S. Central Command. The provision would apply only this one time. The bill would limit debate on the consideration of the waiver bill to 10 hours but would maintain a 60-vote threshold for adoption.
Congressional Member Pay, Funding, and other provisions—The bill would prevent an increase in pay for Members of Congress. The bill would also shift funding within the Senate leadership account to correspond to the titles of the rearranged Senate minority leadership. The bill transfers the control of the O’Neill Federal Building to the House of Representatives and provides the Architect of the Capitol certain authorities.
Smithsonian Expenses—The bill permits flexibility to reallocate funds for the salaries and expenses at the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture and the recently reopened National Gallery of Art.
Agriculture Provisions—The bill permits flexibility to reallocate funds to insure certain Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency backed loans; transfer funds within the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service; and reallocate funds for certain programs within the Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service.
Census Bureau—The bill enables the U.S. Census Bureau to fund activities required according to statutory deadlines in the 2020 Decennial Census Program.
 See U.S. News article, “Obama sends $11.6B anti-terror request to lame-duck Congress,” November 10, 2016.
 See Department of Energy website, Strategic Petroleum Reserve
 The Nonrecurring Expense Fund (42 U.S.C. 3514a)
 See Joint Polar Satellite System website, Mission and Instruments
 See CBO score
 See New York Times article, “New York Asks U.S. to Pay Trump Security Costs; Puts First Bill at $35 Million,” December 5, 2016.
Both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations have reported all 12 annual appropriations bills. The House has considered and passed five of these—the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 4974); the Legislative Branch appropriations bill (H.R. 5325); the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill (H.R. 5293); the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 5538); and the Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5293). The Senate has not acted on any of these measures. H.R. 5325, a Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution, was then enacted on September 29, 2016. The Act extended funding for government operations through December 9, 2016, as well as enacted the full year Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Consequently, without action, funding for the balance of discretionary government operations expires on December 9.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available. However, the bill spends $1.070 trillion.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.