House GOP Targets Swift Approval Of Appropriations Bills For 2025

Leaders in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives have laid out an aggressive schedule to try and pass all of the FY 2025 appropriations bills, and the new Chairman of Appropriations, Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, is right in the thick of it.

Wednesday, May 29th 2024, 5:26 pm



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Leaders in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives have laid out an aggressive schedule to try and pass all of the FY 2025 appropriations bills, and the new Chairman of Appropriations, Oklahoma’s Tom Cole, is right in the thick of it.

House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) informed members of the GOP conference last week that the goal is, not just to get all 12 appropriations bills out of committee, but all 12 across the House floor before the start of August recess. It’s a tall order.

"We got to get these bills moving," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) in a recent interview, "we’re six months behind on the normal appropriations process as is."

To help move things along, Congressman Cole last week finalized the topline funding levels for all 12 appropriations subcommittees, following a strict reading of last year’s Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), which set spending levels for fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

"The reality is, there were a lot of side deals that were not part of the law but were agreed upon by the two sides," Cole explained, "we thought the best thing to do would be just to follow the law."

The FRA allowed for a one percent increase in baseline appropriations from 2024 to 2025. Before the addition of the 'side deal' funding put current discretionary spending for FY24 at $1.66 trillion, the baseline number was $1.589 trillion. The law's one percent increase would, therefore, put the funding limit for FY25 at $1.605 trillion, which is just what Cole and Republicans on the Appropriations Committee voted to approve.

That represents a nearly three percent decrease in discretionary spending.

But Cole's and Republicans' intention is to allocate the funding so that, despite an overall cut, GOP priorities will not be cut. Under the House GOP plan, defense will see an overall increase of one percent, or about $9 billion. Funding for veterans would not be cut and funding for the border security initiatives would increase.

"Everything else is going to get a haircut," Cole allowed.

Non-defense appropriations -- buoyed this year by 'side deals' that were not technically part of FRA -- would effectively be cut, on average, six percent.

In a statement following approval of the toplines, formally known as 302(b)s, Cole said, "These allocations uphold the funding level prescribed in law and demonstrate that we can both fund our nation’s needs and exercise fiscal discipline."

The top Democrat on Appropriations, though, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), ripped the topline numbers, saying the proposed funding levels "...fall well short of what the American people need, and well short of what both parties already agreed to."

While the cuts may be too much for some Democrats to stomach, they may not be enough for some Republicans. Last year, it was the disgruntled far right that that blocked several of the spending bills, and Cole knows that could happen again.

The bottom line, Cole says, is these toplines are a starting point--he won't control where they end up.

"That final decision is made above my head," said Rep. Cole. "There will be a negotiation that involves the Speaker (and) the Majority Leader of the Senate."

And, of course, the Biden administration will be weighing in, especially given this will potentially be playing out during the run-up to the November election.

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