Senate Begins Releasing FY 2020 Appropriations Bills

Update, September 26, 2019: Earlier today, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill, which included a $2 million increase for the NEH over FY 2019. Also included in the bill were increases for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund.

The Senate has been moving through the appropriations process at a far slower pace than the House. While the House passed 10 of its 12 appropriations bills before the August recess, the Senate has just begun releasing and considering bills over the past week. It is only in the past two days that we have begun to see the funding bills that include appropriations for humanities programs.

The Senate Labor-H bill, released on Wednesday, includes level funding for the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs, in contrast to the increase of $80.4 million for Title VI and $8.73 million for Fulbright-Hays in the House bill. IMLS would receive a small increase of $2 million (in contrast to the $15 million increase in the House). These discrepancies are in part due to the budget deal reached last month, which settled on budget caps lower than the ones the House had assumed when it drafted and passed its bills. The Senate also provided a lower overall funding allocation to its Labor-H bill compared to the House largely due to a partisan debate over Title X family planning programs.

The Financial Services and General Government bill, released yesterday, included no funding for the National Historical Publications and Research Commission. The House bill included $7 million, which would be a $1 million increase over FY 2019 funding. 

The proposed numbers in these bills might still change: broader debates about funding allocations for individual bills continue and neither the Labor-H bill nor the Financial Services bill has passed on the Senate floor. Even if the bills pass with current funding levels, they will need to be conferenced with House bills to reconcile discrepancies. 

Cognizant that the appropriations process is unlikely to be completed by the September 30 deadline, the House yesterday passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government at FY 2019 levels through November 21.

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