Congress is starting its spring break these next two weeks, but the Biden Administration will still release their proposed discretionary appropriations numbers while members are on recess. The House returns on April 13, 2021, and when they return, they are expected to begin the appropriations process.
The ten-year 2011 Budget Control Act agreed to between President Obama and Speaker Boehner has expired, meaning new spending targets need to be set for at least this year. Those ten-year caps were re-negotiated every year or two years, but they had tied together increases in defense spending to increases in domestic spending. None of that now applies.
The Biden budget information, likely released on Thursday, will not include details on the President’s major initiatives, but it will provide Congress with enough in spending requests to start this year’s appropriations process for the 12 appropriations subcommittees. The budget, which some people call a new administration’s “skinny” budget since a new administration needs time to recalculate priorities, is expected to include proposed funding levels for each federal agency. While it will not include the big plans for infrastructure and human service expansions, it should provide important clues through increases for education, public health, housing, and HHS programs. There is an expectation that it will also include level funding for the Defense Department.
These annual discretionary funding totals (annual appropriations) now make up approximately one-third of the federal budget, with the remainder various mandatory funding, entitlements, and debt service.