Pay raise intact in House 2017 appropriations bill

The Internal Revenue Service and General Services Administration are the largest targets on the chopping block within the fiscal year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which also includes a slew of riders aimed at addressing agency accountability and oversight.

The $21.7 billion bill funds the Treasury Department, Judiciary,  Small Business Administration, Security and Exchange Commission, and other agencies that manage federal buildings and the workforce, including the Office of Personnel Management. The bill also provides funding  for the District of Columbia.

The legislation remained silent on a proposed 1.6 percent pay raise for federal employees and military personnel.

The price tag represents a $1.5 billion drop from the fiscal 2016 enacted level, and $2.7 billion less than the President’s budget request.

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Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) chairman of the financial services and general government subcommittee, acknowledged the bill was a “significant reduction compared to 2016.”

“Nonetheless, the allocation is sufficient to fund vital federal programs, as well as one-time set-asides for the expenses of the presidential transition,” Crenshaw said.

Not every subcommittee member felt the same way.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said Democrats were eager to support bills that include “adequate spending levels.”

“I’m not even talking about great spending levels,” Lowey said. “We all know and care about watching our budget and looking at the numbers carefully. I’m talking about adequate [spending levels and budgets] that are absent of unnecessary riders. And I wish my colleagues could just save some of those riders for the authorization process.”

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) echoed his fellow New York lawmaker, saying the riders belonged elsewhere.

“The numbers belong here,” he said. “There is a process from now to a final bill. Let’s try to make an effort this year that we haven’t been able to before.”

But Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) called the legislation “a good bill.”

“This subcommittee oversees a broad range of agencies and programs, which can make it difficult to strike the right balance of funding. I am pleased that this bill has found that balance,” Rogers said. “The subcommittee has prioritized programs that fulfill critical services while also taking important steps to rein in agencies that have not been performing adequately on behalf of the American taxpayer.”

IRS

One of the largest cuts in funding is directed at the IRS. The agency requested $12.3 billion for fiscal 2017 to help bolster cybersecurity and customer service efforts. The agency would get $10.9 billion under the proposed bill, which also includes:

  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration.
  • A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs and individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.

“Our bill reduces funding for agencies that we believe can produce results with fewer dollars,” Crenshaw said. “And where there is a history of inappropriate behavior, such as the Internal Revenue Service, cutbacks and reforms are recommended to hold them accountable.”

GSA

The GSA also received one of the largest cuts at $951 million below the enacted fiscal 2016 level. The bill provides for $9.2 billion, which includes $200 million toward the construction of a new FBI headquarters.

The bill also requires the agency to provide reports on its spending and facilities.

Other agencies and provisions

The legislation provides a one-time total funding increase of $47 million to the Executive Office, National Archives and Records Administration, GSA and the District of Columbia, to cover the presidential transition.

The District  also appropriated $725 million in federal funding, which is $4.6 million less than fiscal 2016.

The bill proposes to repeal the Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act, a referendum passed by District voters, which would allow the city to spend local funds without congressional approval.

The Judiciary would receive $7 billion for federal courts, an increase of $177 million over fiscal 2016.

The legislation also aims at stopping the application of the Affordable Care Act by prohibiting certain funding for the IRS to continue to implement the health insurance mandate. Other legislative bans include:

  • A prohibition on funding to require that entities applying for or conducting work under federal contracts disclose campaign contributions.
  • A prohibition against the use of funds for abortion in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program.
  • A prohibition on funds for a pay increase for the Vice President and other senior political appointees.

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