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Legislative Branch: Eyeing 10 Percent Boost

Lawmakers and congressional agencies are eyeing small jumps in fiscal 2016 legislative branch funding, even though President Barack Obama’s proposed budget includes billions in spending increases and a rollback of sequester cuts.

The legislative branch portion of Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget shows a nearly 10 percent proposed increase in legislative branch funding. It includes around $4.7 billion in spending, compared to $4.3 billion enacted for fiscal 2015 (PL 113-235).

Although the bottom-line increase was modest, several legislative branch agencies are requesting increases in their own funding.

Unlike the 11 other appropriations bills, the legislative branch budget consists of direct requests from the legislative agencies and offices the budget funds, and not of recommendations from the Office Management and Budget. The House and Senate each defer to the other chamber when determining their own budgets, as is routine with the legislative branch appropriations bill.

Both the House and Senate are requesting slight increases in salaries for officers and employees. The House is looking for a nearly 4 percent increase in funding for compensation and expenses, while the Senate requested a nearly 5 percent increase for compensation.

However, the general fund for House of Representative salaries would not change from the nearly $1.2 billion enacted in 2015. Other areas that would include no changes compared to 2015 include funds for the Government Publishing Office to publish congressional documents and House members’ representational allowances.

The Congressional Budget Office requested a 3.5 percent jump in funds for salaries and expenses, amounting to nearly $47.3 million, compared to $45.7 million enacted in fiscal 2015.

Percentage-wise, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission is requesting one of the largest increases, asking to double its spending from $1 million in fiscal 2015 to $2 million in fiscal 2016.

The U.S. Capitol Police is also requesting an increase in salaries and general expenses. The 2016 budget request includes more than $307 million for salaries, compared to more than $286 million in 2015, amounting to a 7 percent increase. The police force is also asking for a 16 percent increase in funds for general expenses, amounting to more than $71 million.

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, whose department oversees the maintenance and preservation of the Capitol grounds and buildings, requested an increase of nearly 30 percent in funds to maintain the grounds. But the AOC request also includes a nearly 10 percent decrease in funds to maintain the Senate Office buildings, dropping from $94 million in 2015 to nearly $85 million in 2016. The request for AOC funds to maintain House office buildings included a nearly 1 percent increase.

An earlier version of this story misstated the percentage increase for overall legislative branch funding and for the Architect of the Capitol budget.

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