Each year, Congress allocates funding for the Legislative Branch entities through the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bills direct congressional spending, line item by line item — but the instructions are not published as data and can run for dozens of pages, making it very difficult to see how appropriations spending has changed over the decades.
We have gone through all of the Legislative Branch spending bills for the last thirty years and lined up the spending items in a downloadable spreadsheet. The line item spreadsheet has sections for the House, Senate, and agencies, as well as tabs that adjust funding for inflation, allowing readers to see how spending on each line item has changed since 1994 in both constant and real dollars.
Demand Progress Education Fund Releases New Report Card and Recommendations
A new report by Demand Progress Education Fund found that the US Capitol Police (USCP) has either failed to comply with or has slow-walked implementing several reform directives from Congress and recommendations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), all aimed at improving the agency’s accountability. Demand Progress Education Fund published its analysis, Capitol Alert: Assessing the US Capitol Police’s Compliance with Congressional Calls for Accountabilityas the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the House Committee on House Administration are preparing for the first joint hearing examining the US Capitol Police Board since the 1940s.
“The January 6 attack on the US Capitol tragically demonstrated the urgent need to modernize the US Capitol Police and improve its emergency preparedness, information sharing, and oversight,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress and author of the report. “Capitol Police leadership has kept us in the dark on how they plan to comply with numerous accountability directives from Congress and recommendations from the Government Accountability Office. Given the Capitol Police’s critical role to protect the US Capitol and all who work and visit there, we identified areas where it has made progress and where it has fallen short to help the USCP improve itself and adapt to new threats.”
The Capitol Alert report examines the US Capitol Police and its Board’s structure and disclosure practices, and also assesses whether the USCP has complied with nine congressional directives to the Capitol Police to reform its practices issued between FY 2019-2023 and 11 reform recommendations issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) during that same period of time.
On Thursday, July 13, 2023, the Full Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the FY 2024 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill 30-0. The bill text and report weren’t published online until Friday morning but can be found here.
To help keep track of all items requested in the Senate Legislative Branch bill report, we built a public spreadsheet that maintains a catalog of items, broken down by title, the entity responsible, the timeline for completion, and the due date. See the spreadsheet here and below:
On Thursday, July 13, the full Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill and report 30-0. Unfortunately, the bill text, manager’s amendment, and committee report didn’t come out until Friday morning, the day after the markup.
The Senate proposed to appropriate $6.761 billion towards the Legislative branch, a 2% reduction from $6.899 FY23 enacted level. This number aligns with the Senate Appropriations Committee initial 302(b) suballocations, which were approved on June 22. By comparison, the inflation rate for the 12 months ending in June was 3.0%, so this represents a cut in real terms in funding for the Legislative branch. Additionally, the House Appropriations full committee favorably reported out its FY24 Legislative Branch bill in May, which appropriated $6.746 billion, a difference of $15 millon from the Senate version. You can read more about the House bill’s funding numbers here.
We reviewed the bill text released on Friday morning and compared each line item against historical norms. Our findings on that line by line review are below. In a future blogpost, we will review the policy requests included in the accompanying FY24 Senate Legislative Branch Appropriation bill report.
In summary, the Senate looked to bolster congressional security, operations, and staff resources with this bill. Given the ongoing back-and-forth with the House, the Senate made it clear they want Congress to retain much of its current capabilities to legislate, conduct oversight, and serve constituents.
To make it easier to follow the federal appropriations process, we’ve compiled a spreadsheet to track testimony deadlines for FY 2024 appropriations hearings; it’s also available online here. We’ll continually update the spreadsheet as the remaining member and public testimony deadlines for both chambers are announced.
There are over 30 support offices and agencies within the Legislative branch, including the Government Accountability Office, the Architect of the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the United States Capitol Police, and more. How are agency heads chosen and how are they removed?
The answer is not always clear. At times, the legislation or resolutions establishing an office do not specify how an officeholder may be removed. There are often informal practices for how appointments and removal work.
The Legislative branch itself does not have a standard approach. Some variation may be attributed to the roles of the offices, which may perform legislative, administrative, financial, and ceremonial functions. Other variations may arise from when an office was established, where it exists in the legislative branch, and whom it is intended to support.
Understanding how senior officials are chosen provides insight into whether and how they may be held accountable, to whom they are responsive, and whether their structure implicates the balance of equities between the Executive and Legislative branches.
We compiled a spreadsheet that contains details on the processes for selecting Legislative branch agency heads. It includes information on who selects office heads, the length of agency head tenures (if terms are set), reappointment or removal provisions (if any), and chamber roles in the appointment process.
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.
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.
Congress finally introduced its FY 2023 omnibus bill. In the spreadsheet here and below, we broke down the Legislative Branch line items contained in the FY 2023 omnibus bill and compared them to FY 2021 and FY 2022. The spreadsheet also contains the requests published in the president budget, the appropriations levels supported by the subcommittee and full committee as they come out, and a comparison of how those levels have changed over time.
At the start of the 118th Congress, the House of Representatives will adopt new procedural rules that govern nearly every aspect of how it conducts business. In preparation, the House Rules Committee held its Member Day hearing (announcement, video) on Tuesday, November 28, 2022, to provide members of the House an opportunity to propose new Rules changes for the 118th Congress.
Members made several laudable recommendations during the proceeding:
Rep. Davidson’s proposal to grant one staffer from each House office the ability to apply for TS/SCI clearance.
Rep. Timmon’s recommendation to fix committee scheduling by creating an online portal for committee chairs to pick and choose hearing and markup times to help reduce scheduling conflicts.
Rep. Griffith’s idea to have proportional representation on committees.
Rep. Joyce’s proposal to establish a bipartisan ethics task force to study ethics rules and regulations.
Del. Radewagen’s support for keeping the rule to allow delegates and resident commissioners to vote in the committee as a whole.
At the end of the Member Day hearing, multiple members, including Chair McGovern, urged the 118th House Rules to retain the ability for remote committee proceedings, a proposal we support. Reps. Jackson Lee and Grijalva submitted statements for the record supporting remote committee proceedings while Chair McGovern said he has heard from many members that remote committee proceedings have been helpful in obtaining witness testimony without the worry of travel or cost of the taxpayer.
The following is a high-level summary of each member’s requests and their justifications (with corresponding timestamps from the video). Please note that at the time of this writing, any submissions in writing by the members were not publicly available.