House Democrats Prepare to Set Top Line Numbers


June 14, 2021 1:43 pm

House Democrats plan to allow appropriators to get started on fiscal 2022 spending bills before releasing a full budget resolution, potentially saving that measure to pave a path forward for infrastructure and other legislative priorities.

Democrats introduced on Friday a resolution (H. Res. 467) to set a $1.5 trillion limit on regular discretionary appropriations for fiscal 2022, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) told Bloomberg News’ Erik Wasson. The “deeming resolution” would set top-line spending levels in lieu of a full budget resolution.

The $1.5 trillion hews closely to President Joe Biden’s proposed top line, which included $769.6 billion for nondefense discretionary spending and $752.9 billion for defense, totaling slightly more than $1.5 trillion.

The decision also saves the full fiscal 2022 budget resolution for reconciliation purposes. Yarmuth said in an interview last week he’s moving “full speed ahead” on a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions that would allow senators to pass Biden’s two economic legislative proposals, including for infrastructure, with a simple majority.

The deeming resolution would require a vote on the floor to allow appropriators to start work. The last time House lawmakers struggled to agree to top-line spending figures — during a 2019 squabble among Democrats over military funding — lawmakers included the deeming resolution within a rule for consideration of another measure, so that when lawmakers adopted the rule they also gave appropriators the go-ahead.

House appropriators plan to begin markups of spending bills “in the coming weeks,” House Appropriations Committee majority spokesman Evan Hollander said in an email last week. The markups are set to be a hybrid between in-person and remote participation under the House’s rules for committee work during the pandemic, Hollander said. The House’s “covered period” allowing remote voting and committee work has been extended until July 3.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said he wants to start holding markups in July. He said there have been informal bipartisan discussions about top-line spending levels. Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said those conversations have yet to get serious.

It’s safe to expect that lawmakers will rely on at least one stopgap measure to fund the government past the Sept. 30 deadline, largely because the Senate tends to work slowly, Yarmuth said in an interview last week.

“The Senate does not have a history of getting their work done on time,” Yarmuth said.

More Budget & Appropriations News

Infrastructure Talks Drag: Biden’s quest to enact his $4 trillion economic agenda enters a turbulent new phase today as the House comes back into session and Democratic representatives ramp up pressure on the Senate to produce a bipartisan compromise or stop prolonging the effort, Bloomberg News’ Erik Wasson and Billy House report.

Addressing the demands of progressive Democrats to go it alone will be a major challenge for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants in the coming weeks. She’ll need to keep an eye as well on moderate Democrats, who are leery about any solo package in the absence of the party having enough Senate votes to power it through.

Tensions have risen in the run-up to White House acting budget director Shalanda Young and Biden counselor Steve Ricchetti’s meeting tomorrow with House Democrats to discuss Biden’s proposed programs. That will mark the caucus’s first in-person get-together since the pandemic erupted.

A key challenge is that the fast-track budget process that progressives want to use — the same one deployed for the $1.9 trillion March pandemic-relief bill — will only be available if all 50 in the Senate Democratic caucus agree to take that step.

Two key members — Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are not in favor of that course without trying a bipartisan deal first. While talks on that front continue, there’s no guarantee a Senate compromise could pass the Democratic-controlled House.

Read more: Pelosi Faces Restive Caucus as Senate Infrastructure Talks Drag

Collins Touts Plan: The infrastructure spending package developed by a bipartisan group of senators will be “targeted” and “responsible,” one of its architects said yesterday. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) continued to call for spending to be confined to traditional priorities like repairing roads, bridges and airports, and split off from the broader proposals of the Biden administration like elder care funding. Collins is among a bipartisan group of 10 senators that has formulated a $1.2 trillion deal on an infrastructure bill they will pitch to Biden. Read more from Anna Edney.

White House Wants Border Wall Rescission: The White House said Friday in a fact sheet it “is reiterating its call for Congress to cancel funds it previously appropriated for border barrier projects so that these resources can instead be used for modern, effective border management measures to improve safety and security.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said the Biden administration has blocked border wall funding that was taken from the Department of Defense, but hasn’t blocked funds that were specifically appropriated for the border wall. Congressional Republicans have said the administration may have violated the Impoundment Control Act by withholding some border wall funds, and the Government Accountability Office is investigating.

Read more: Biden Gives Military $2 Billion Trump Allotted for Border Wall

Fiscal 2022 Budget & Appropriations Hearings


  • Armed Services on the Army posture in review of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, tomorrow. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth will testify.
  • Armed Services Airland Subcommittee on Army modernization in review of the 2022 NDAA, tomorrow.
  • Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee on the Agriculture Department budget, Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify.
  • Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee on NASA, Tuesday. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will testify.
  • Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education on the Education Department, Wednesday. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will testify.
  • Appropriations Interior-Environment on the Interior Department, Wednesday. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will testify.
  • Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee on the Transportation Department, Wednesday. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify.
  • Appropriations MilCon-VA Subcommittee on military construction and family housing, Wednesday.
  • Appropriations Committee on the Defense Department, Thursday.
  • Energy and Natural Resources on the Energy Department, Tuesday.
  • Veterans’ Affairs on the Veterans Affairs Department requests for fiscal 2022 and 2023, Wednesday.
  • Finance Committee on the Biden’s budget, Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify.
  • Energy and Natural Resources on the Forest Service, Thursday. Forest Service Chief Victoria Christensen will testify.


  • Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the National Intelligence Program budget overview, tomorrow.
  • Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee on missile defense and defeat programs, tomorrow.
  • Armed Services on the Navy, tomorrow. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Harker will testify.
  • Armed Services on the Air Force, Wednesday. Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth will testify.
  • Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee on Navy seapower and projection forces, Thursday.
  • Way and Means on Biden’s budget, Thursday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify.