First Reactions to Senate Democrats’ Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee Bill

On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee Democrats released draft text, explanatory statements, and summaries for nine appropriations bills, including the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. We reviewed the bill text, explanatory report, and subcommittee bill summary and compared the proposed funding to the enacted levels from the last Congress. 

Senate Democratic Appropriators proposed a discretionary funding level of $29.4 billion, a $4.8 billion increase compared to FY 2021 enacted levels, or 16.3 percentage increase. This proposal represents $154 million less than the president’s request. For reference, the House-version — which passed the House in July as part of a minibus (here’s the committee report) — proposed $29.1 billion. Senate Republicans disapproved of Democrats publication of these bills and are calling for an agreement on top line spending levels; Democrats have been calling for negotiations for months.

Prior to this appropriations cycle, we compiled a list of ideas to include in the FY 2022 FSGG Appropriations bill. They include creating virtual visitor logs, providing centralized access to agency congressional budget justifications, public access to OMB apportionment decisions, listing unpublished IG reports on, improving congressional and public access to IG reports, and a COVID-19 spending tracker.

We note two notable provisions in the Senate’s explanatory statement

1. Apportionment Transparency

Providing $1 million to OMB to create a system to make apportionment of appropriations publicly available in a timely manner. Once the system is complete, OMB will be required to place each apportionment document on the public website within two days. (p. 45 of bill text and p. 28 of explanatory statement).

2. Federal Government Internships

Directing OPM to develop a strategy — which includes working with federal agencies and nonprofits — to increase the number of interns in the federal government over a three-year period. The strategy must include recruitment practices, onboarding, professional development, and offboarding (p. 83 of the explanatory statement).

The House’s Committee contained 11 significant provisions:

1. Virtual White House Visitor Logs (p. 37)

Directs the Executive Office of the President to explore the feasibility of disclosing “virtual” visitors to the White House in a similar manner as that which physical visitors are disclosed.

2. Centralized Access to Agency Budget Justifications (p. 39). We note that an authorizing bill, the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act, was recently enacted into law on this topic. The report language directs the establishment of a website that links to all the CJs.

3. Guidance for Working with Whistleblowers (p. 40) published on 

Directs CIGIE to establish best practices for working with whistleblowers and for IGs to create a written process for dealing with whistleblowers.

4. Improvements to, including a portal to information about COVID-19 response (p. 145). 

This is a statutory provision that led to the creation of

5. Employees and interns are the subject of a series of recommendations (p. 95). 

Directs OPM to issue a report on the number of interns that become employees; increasing the number of interns; improving data on federal employees; and having more data on political appointees. (On the final point, the PLUM Act, should it be enacted, will provide more information.)

6. Reinforcing agency responsiveness to GAO (p. 12)

Intended to remedy the issue of Executive branch agencies being slow or otherwise not responding to GAO, it requires executive agencies to respond to written requests within 20 days + for GAO to tell Congress when it does not get a response within that time frame.

7. Expanding reporting requirements under the anti-deficiency act (p. 13)

Requires expanded reporting on ADA violations

8. Publishing unclassified vendor contracts on USASpending (p. 23)

The Fiscal Service is directed to continue to make available information about Financial Agents and also to now publish vendor contracts and grant awards.

9. Apportionment transparency (p.48)

Requiring OMB to implement an automated system to publicly release documents regarding apportionment decisions.

10. Supreme Court Live Video and Audio (p. 50)

Encourages the Court to continue with live video and encourages the court to look to live video.

11. Encouraging a Supreme Court Code of Conduct (p. 50

Urges the Supreme Court to establish a code of conduct

– Written by Taylor J. Swift and Daniel Schuman