The FY 2016 federal budget process has begun in earnest with the various House and Senate appropriation committees developing spending proposals for the upcoming federal fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. GOP leaders promise a prompt budget process this year. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees held preliminary budget hearings in February to begin discussing needs, restraints, and priorities. Department heads will testify through the month on requested funding levels.
Republican appropriators in both the House and Senate are vowing to cut back on the spending increases included in President Obama’s proposed FY 2016 budget and stick to sequester caps in place for the coming fiscal year, despite the fact that many agency leaders say they need additional funding.
The president’s budget ends sequestration which is the imposition of deep cuts required by the Budget Control Act if Congress does not agree to other means of reducing the deficit. The president complies with the Budget Control Act by proposing other means: a combination of increased revenues and reduced spending.
By ending sequestration, the president’s FY 2016 budget could begin to reverse some of the cuts of the past five years, notably in child welfare, education and training and public health. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that another year of sequestration would leave domestic and other appropriations 17% below their FY 2010 levels, taking inflation into account. Even level funding for children and youth programs will not be possible if the deep cuts required by sequestration are allowed to continue, advocates say. In addition, some key Congressional leaders have been calling for more tax breaks which would make necessary additional cuts to anti-poverty programs.
There is talk that Republicans in the House and Senate will include a process in the budget resolution known as reconciliation to cut and make changes to mandatory spending programs (those programs not subjected to the annual appropriations process, like Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP/food stamps) and to enact tax cuts.