House Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2021 Funding Bills

During the week of July 13, the House Appropriations Committee completed its marathon markups of its 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021, making way for consideration by the full House of Representatives; the relevant subcommittees advanced their respective measures the week prior.

Despite the semblance of “regular order,” the outlook for final FY 2021 spending bills is still very much up in the air as lawmakers continue to grapple with pandemic relief negotiations and as the November elections approach. In addition, the House bills—which were written by the Democrats—include several funding and policy provisions that will be non-starters for the Republican-controlled Senate. For example, one area of contention between the parties is whether to use the FY 2021 spending bills to provide additional coronavirus relief (as currently included in the House Labor, HHS, Education bill), or to negotiate such measures separately (which is the position of that subcommittee’s Ranking Republican). Also threatening final passage of the FY 2021 bills is the perennial fight over whether to fund the President’s border wall; the House Homeland Security bill contains no funding for the project.

Complicating things further are the budget caps to which appropriators were forced to adhere when writing the FY 2021 bills. As previously reported, a bipartisan budget agreement was passed in August 2019 providing much needed relief from tight budget caps on discretionary spending for FY 2020 and FY 2021. The deal allowed Congress to increase funding to federal agencies across the FY 2020 appropriations bills; however, for FY 2021, the deal raised the caps by only 0.4 percent, setting this year up at the outset to be a particularly challenging one.

Timing for consideration of the FY 2021 spending bills in the Senate remains unclear. The chamber returned from a two-week recess to face ongoing COVID-19 relief negotiations and must-pass defense authorization legislation.

Read on for COSSA’s full analysis of the House FY 2021 funding bills for federal agencies and programs important to the social and behavioral science research community.

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