The FY 2023 appropriations omnibus was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Biden. The FY 2023 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill was rolled into the package, and it is packed with good government initiatives and significant investments in Congress’s capacity to legislate, conduct oversight, serve constituents, and more.
We and our civil society colleagues recommended dozens of items to include as part of the bill text and committee report — see our FY 2023 Appropriations requests, FY 2023 appropriations testimony, and 2022 report on updating House Rules — many of which appropriators graciously considered and included.
As Congress turns to the FY 2024 appropriations process, this blogpost highlights some of the notable funding changes reflected in the FY 2023 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. You can find the complete FY 2023 Legislative Branch portion of the bill here and the Joint Explanatory Statement here. The Senate summary can be found here and the House summary can be found here. For resources on prior Legislative Branch Appropriations bills, go here. In a future blogpost, we will look at the report language.
You can compare final line item funding for FY 2021 versus FY 2022 versus FY 2023 by looking at our spreadsheet.
The FY 2023 Legislative Branch bill appropriates $6.9 billion towards the Legislative Branch, a $975.0 million increase over FY 2022, representing 16.5% increase.
The key funding features of this legislation include:
A modest increase to personal, committee, and leadership offices funding.
The House saw a $35.6 million (4.6%) increase for the Member Representational Allowance (MRA) to $810 million. This funding comes after a historic 21% increase in the MRA in FY 2022, which demonstrates the House is committing a significant investment in helping to rebuild congressional capacity and staff pay.
The Senate’s SOPOEA — the Senate equivalent to the House MRA — funding level saw a slight increase by $25.7 million from $486.3 million in FY 22 to $512 million in FY 23, representing a 5.3% increase. While pay rates are the decision of individual senators and the Committee on Rules, the bill provides this additional funding for each Senate office to cover a minimum annual pay for full-time staff at $45,000, matching the Speaker pay order in the House.
Additional funding and resources for interns.
$24.3 million in funding for paid interns for Member, Leadership, and Committee offices, an increase of $6.1 million from FY 2022. This funding provides $46,800 per Member office for interns, an increase of $11,800 per Member, helping to provide a living wage for interns during their tenure. The bill also provides resources to establish a House Intern Resource Office.
In the Senate, funding for internships remained at $7 million. Once again, Senate committee internships did not receive any funding.
We note that funding for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion doubled from $3.0 to $3.5 million, which means that this newly widened pathway will make it possible for more people to get their foot on the first rung of the congressional ladder.
Increases in support offices funding.
In the House, support offices like the Clerk (+11.9%) and Sergeant at Arms (+40%) saw significant increases. The Clerk needs the funds to support its technology operations and ongoing modernization initiatives, and the SAA has significant security components. The Chief Administrative Office, which continues to produce great work around staff and member training, saw a 9.5 percent increase from $193.2 million in FY 22 to $211.6 million in FY 23. We also note increases for the important but often overlooked Office of Parliamentarian (+2.3%), Legislative Counsel (+6.6%), and Law Revision Counsel (+4.1%).
In the Senate, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper saw a $10.4 million increase to $108.9 million, representing a 10.5 percent increase from FY 22. Policymaking support offices, like the Office of the Legislative Counsel of the Senate (10.8%) and Office of Senate Legal Counsel (3.9%), saw increases as well.
The House Modernization Initiative fund saw its $10 million request fulfilled, a 400% increase from the $2 million in FY 2022, helping to provide funds for support offices to implement and fulfill modernization-related recommendations and operations.
Increases for the legislative policy support agencies.
The Government Accountability Office saw a significant increase in funding, a $71.1 million increase to $790.3 million (+9.9%), although it is significantly below its historical funding levels when adjusted for inflation. Increases in funding for GAO has a high probability of leading to substantial long run savings — GAO estimates that every dollar spent on GAO has a 74x return on the investment.
There were increases in other legislative policy support agencies: Congressional Research Service (3.5%), Congressional Budget Office (3.8%), and Government Publishing Office (the actual amount is unclear because of how the revolving door fund works).
The Office of Congressional Workplace Rights saw a half a million dollar increase from $7.5 million in FY 2022 to $8 million in FY 2023. This 6.3% increase in funding will help the office support the ongoing unionization effort in the House.
Capitol Police receive another massive funding increase.
The Capitol Police (USCP) combined salaries and expenses will receive an additional $132 million from $602.5 million in FY 22 to $734.6 million in FY 23, representing a 21.9% increase. USCP aims to use additional funding to pay for new sworn officers and civilian members, although they likely will find it hard to sustain that level of hiring.
Unlikely other Legislative branch entities, the Capitol Police are always well funded and routinely enjoy significant increases. USCP salaries and expenses alone have received an increase in over $308 million in funding since FY 2020. As we have written elsewhere, the major problems at the Capitol Police lie with poor leadership, bad management, and a lack of training, something that funding cannot resolve.
Even more money for the Architect of the Capitol.
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) saw an increase of $541 million from $773.9 million in FY 22 to $1.3 billion in FY 22, representing a 98.1% increase. USCP buildings, grounds, and security — which is housed under Architect funding — received a $340,517,267 increase (a whopping 545.8%) from the $62,389,733 received in FY 2022 to $402.9 million. This unprecedented increase in funding will be used for member home and travel security. AOC funding also includes $40.6 million to continue restoration of the Cannon House Office Building.