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$1.5 trillion spending cap approved with House rule

'Deeming' resolution inserted into rule for floor debate on corporate governance, military use of force authorization bills

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, sought to remove the underlying rule's spending cap for appropriators.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, sought to remove the underlying rule's spending cap for appropriators. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats approved a resolution Monday that would set a $1.506 trillion appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year when members voted 216-206 to adopt a rule for floor debate on two unrelated bills.

The House Rules Committee briefly debated the “deeming” resolution during its hearing after Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, offered an amendment to remove it from the rule.

Burgess and Rules ranking member Tom Cole, R-Okla., criticized Democrats for moving forward with the appropriations ceiling before debating a fiscal 2022 budget resolution.

“It’s an abdication of your responsibility, and we all deserve the debate,” Cole said.

Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said putting the deeming resolution in a rule was a “housekeeping item” that Democrats needed to adopt in order to get the appropriations process started.

“Given the timing of the president’s budget, the Appropriations Committee will need to get started before we have a budget resolution,” he said.

The Rules Committee rejected Burgess’ amendment on a 4-8 vote, and the underlying rule was adopted on a 9-4 vote.

House Budget ranking member Jason Smith, R-Mo., rebuked Democrats for putting the deeming resolution in the rule during floor debate, arguing that it wasn’t a transparent process.

“This is complete madness that the Democrats are trying to push through a deeming resolution to spend 1.5 trillion and they have yet to even bring it up in the debate,” he said.

President Joe Biden didn’t release his full budget request until May 28, a particularly late start for the annual budget and appropriations process. But Democrats are holding back their fiscal 2022 budget resolution until leaders and the White House are able to make firm decisions about when and how to move an infrastructure package.

Negotiations between Republicans, Democrats and the administration on a bipartisan infrastructure package are ongoing, though Democrats expect to need the budget resolution to advance more left-leaning legislation through the fast-track reconciliation process.

The deeming resolution within the rule sets a total spending level for House appropriators for the upcoming fiscal year, but doesn’t specify spending levels for defense and nondefense discretionary spending.

Biden’s budget request proposed $770 billion, a 16.5 percent increase, for domestic and foreign aid programs, and $753 billion for defense, a 1.6 percent boost.

How the $1.506 trillion total is broken down into the dozen annual funding bills will be up to House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, who expects her panel will begin debating the bills late this month.

The “deemer” also allows the traditional cap adjustments to add more money for disaster relief, wildfire suppression and program integrity initiatives to root out waste in certain programs, including a new $417 million adjustment for IRS tax enforcement.

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., introduced the deeming resolution on Friday.

The deeming resolution was included in a rule setting up debate on a bill repealing the 2002 authorization of use of military force for conflicts in Iraq and legislation requiring corporations to disclose to shareholders certain environmental, social and governance metrics.

Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report. 

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