Budgeting and Appropriating: A Prism Through Which A Philosophy of Governing Shines

Now that Congress has agreed on a budget deal, the next step in the process is to appropriate the funds for various programs, from agriculture to transportation.  The outcome of this process will be about more than just numbers.

Indeed, according the the House of Representatives, the budget is more than just a bunch of numbers:

The budget resolution is the only legislative vehicle that views government comprehensively. It provides the framework for the consideration of other legislation. Ultimately, a budget is much more than series of numbers. It also serves as an expression of Congress’s principles, vision, and philosophy of governing.

Unfortunately, as Heritage Action’s Dan Holler noted, the Ryan-Murray Budget is much more a reflection of the Senate’s philosophy of governing than of conservatives.  With this budget deal, Congress dragged America further left.  But you needn’t take it from us.  That sentiment came directly from a Senate Democrat budget document, which stated that the Ryan-Murray budget “aligns with the values and priorities of the Senate Budget.”

To demonstrate this one need not look much further than the sheer amount of taxpayer-funded discretionary spending the budget represents, $1.012 trillion in 2014, to be precise.

But the behind the scenes decisions being made by House and Senate staffers will further illuminate Congress’s priorities  — though to a lesser degree than the overall budget itself — as they decide how to appropriate funds for various defense and non-defense discretionary programs:

At center stage are the House and Senate Appropriations committees, whose staffs have been working through the holidays to try to pull together a draft package — really 12 bills in one.

The new 2014 cap for nondefense discretionary spending is $491.8 billion, which will require Senate Democrats to cut $14 billion from the domestic bills reported over the summer. At the same time, Republicans must trim $25 billion from defense-related bills approved by the House last summer if the GOP is to meet the new target of $520.5 billion.

This sets up a battle of perceptions for both parties.

Under discussion are such things as funding for Obamacare and financial reforms, while bills covering “Departments of Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Defense and Veterans Affairs and major science agencies — have been largely finalized.”

The process will continue for the next couple of weeks, and the way money is appropriated under the $1.012 trillion cap will illustrate Congress’s “principles, vision, and philosophy of governing” a little bit more, though having passed a $1 trillion plus budget already speaks volumes.


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How will the $1.012 trillion budget be appropriated in 2014?

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