Differences between House Republicans’ and Senate Democrats’ proposed funding allocations reveal their priorities

Although the House and Senate have yet to reconcile their respective budget resolutions, the House Appropriations Committee forged ahead and recently approved a GOP spending plan for fiscal year 2014, capping base discretionary funding at $967 billion—the level set by the sequestration. The committee also defeated a Democratic proposal that would have set the top-line discretionary funding allocation at $1.058 trillion—the same level of spending called for in both President Obama’s budget request and the Senate budget resolution.

We know that the two chambers of Congress will not likely reach agreement on spending levels for FY2014. But where exactly do they differ? The chart below indicates that there are very minor differences between the House and Senate on Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriation levels. (The latter two allocations are the only without disagreement between the two chambers.) The biggest relative differences occur in funding levels for the Financial Services and General Government, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, and State and Foreign Operations subcommittee allocations. The biggest dollar difference in proposed appropriations between the two chambers is for the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee allocation, which the House GOP recommends funding $44 billion below both the Senate and the administration’s budget requests for FY2014.

When compared with FY2013 levels under sequestration (not depicted in chart), the allocation for Defense is up 5.4 percent under the House Republican’s plan, and the allocation for Military Construction-Veterans Affairs is up 3.4 percent. Additionally, House Republicans’ proposed allocations would cut Labor-HHS-Education funding by 18.6 percent below post-sequestration fiscal 2013 levels, and Transportation-HUD funding by 9 percent below post-sequestration levels.

Though Republicans have tried to distance themselves from sequestration as much as Democrats have—even calling it “the president’s sequester”—their proposed allocation levels speak volumes: they actually do support cuts of this level and would ideally like to see even further domestic cuts at the expense of beefing up defense allocations. They claim that sequestration is bad policy, but the numbers reveal their true priorities—substantially lower funding for government agencies that invest in our nation’s human and physical capital.