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Friday, November 30, 2012

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2013 Budget and Appropriations

Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance

Alex Tiersky
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

International affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1.5% of the total federal budget. While some foreign policy and defense experts view that share as a small price to pay for a robust foreign affairs budget that they believe is essential to meeting national security and foreign policy objectives, others see international affairs spending, particularly foreign aid, as an attractive target for significant spending cuts in order to reduce deficit spending. Congress delayed passing the FY2013 foreign affairs budget and most of the other appropriations bills until after the start of the new fiscal year and the November 2012 elections. Instead, Congress passed a six-month stopgap funding measure that expires in March 2013 (P.L. 112-175).

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2013 budget proposal. The FY2013 request totaled $54.87 billion for the State-Foreign Operations appropriations, including a core budget proposal of $46.63 billion plus $8.24 billion for extraordinary and temporary warrelated Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in frontline states. The total request represented an increase of 2.6% over the estimated FY2012 funding level for the foreign affairs accounts, including $18.8 billion (a 4.5% increase) for State Department and Related Agencies and $36.1 billion (a 0.1% increase) for Foreign Operations. Within the regular budget process, the Administration requested authority in addition to appropriations ($770 million) for a new account—the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund (MENA IF)—to provide flexible and transparent support for Arab Spring countries in transition toward democracy. The foreign affairs request included $8.2 billion for the front line states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (including $800 million for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF), even though most previously enacted PCCF funding has not been disbursed and many lawmakers voiced concern about U.S. relations with, and aid to, Pakistan. For other key accounts, the Administration sought $7.9 billion for the Global Health Programs (GHP) account, $770 million for global climate change activities, and $643 million for family planning and reproductive health activities, including $39 million for the controversial U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Early action by the House and Senate appropriators demonstrated differing priorities and funding levels. The House Appropriations Committee-approved State-Foreign Operations FY2013 funding bill (H.R. 5857/H.Rept. 112-494) would have provided a total of $48.5 billion (including $8.3 billion in OCO and $160 million in rescissions), while the Senate Committee bill (S. 3241/S.Rept. 112-172) would have provided a total of $52.3 billion (including $2.3 billion in OCO). Both House and Senate Committees provided more than requested for GHP, but differed significantly on funding MENA IF—the House committee provided no funding for it, and the Senate committee recommended $1 billion. The House bill provided $461 million for international family planning and reproductive health activities, prohibited funding for UNFPA, and included a “Mexico City Policy” provision prohibiting funding for organizations that perform or promote abortions. In contrast, the Senate bill included $700 million for international family planning, including $44.5 million for UNFPA, and did not include “Mexico City Policy” language.

FY2012 was the first time the Department of State requested and Congress appropriated OCO funds. Congress attempted to rein in FY2012 spending but still meet war-related costs in the front line states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As a result, that year Congress appropriated $11.2 billion in OCO funds, nearly 30% more than the $8.7 billion requested by the Administration. The estimated overall FY2012 total funding level of $53.5 billion was about 10% less than the Administration’s FY2012 request, but 10% more than the FY2011 total.

Date of Report: November 19, 2012
Number of Pages: 38
Order Number: R42621
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Legislative Branch: FY2013 Appropriations

Ida A. Brudnick
Specialist on the Congress

The legislative branch appropriations bill provides funding for the Senate; House of Representatives; Joint Items; Capitol Police; Office of Compliance; Congressional Budget Office (CBO); Architect of the Capitol (AOC); Library of Congress, including the Congressional Research Service (CRS); Government Printing Office (GPO); Government Accountability Office (GAO); and Open World Leadership Center. The legislative branch FY2013 budget request of $4.512 billion, which is submitted to the President by the legislative branch agencies and entities and included in the budget without change, was submitted on February 13, 2012. The request represents an increase of $205.5 million over the $4.307 billion in discretionary funding provided in the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74), which was enacted on December 23, 2011.

The Subcommittees on the Legislative Branch of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees both held hearings during which Members considered the FY2013 legislative branch requests. Among issues that were considered during hearings were: the tight budget environment, prioritization of budget resources, and further options for potential savings or efficiencies; state and district office security; preparations and funding for the January 2013 Presidential Inauguration; deferred maintenance around the Capitol Complex, including the Capitol Dome; and the future of government printing in the digital age.

On May 18, 2012, the House legislative branch subcommittee marked up a bill that would provide nearly $3.333 billion for FY2013, a decrease of 1.0% from FY2012 (not including Senate items). The full committee held its markup on May 31, during which four amendments were considered, and two were adopted. The bill, H.R. 5882, was reported by voice vote. The Rules Committee reported a rule for consideration of the bill, H.Res. 679, on June 6, which was agreed to the following day. On June 8, 2012, the House considered H.R. 5882, adopting five amendments and rejecting two, before passing it by recorded vote. On August 2, 2012, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up a $4.320 billion amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 5882. The substitute was ordered reported by a recorded vote of 22–8. This vote followed an amendment offered to the mark by the chairman to include $61.2 million for the Capitol Dome restoration. The Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (P.L. 112-175) provides funding for the legislative branch at the FY2012 level, increased by 0.612%, through March 27, 2013.

The legislative branch budget has decreased the last two fiscal years. The FY2012 level represented a decrease of $236.9 million (-5.2%) from the FY2011 level, which represented a $125.1 million decrease (-2.7%) from FY2010. P.L. 112-10 (enacted on April 15, 2011) provided $4.543 billion for FY2011 legislative branch operations. P.L. 111-68 (enacted on October 1, 2009) provided $4.656 billion for FY2010. The FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111- 212) provided an additional $12.96 million for the Capitol Police. The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-8, enacted on March 11, 2009) provided $4.402 billion. In FY2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) provided an additional $25.0 million for GAO, and the FY2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-32) provided $71.6 million for the Capitol Police and $2.0 million for the CBO. Since FY1976, the legislative branch has represented approximately 0.4% of total discretionary budget authority.

Date of Report: November 20, 2012
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R42500
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

“Gang of Four” Congressional Intelligence Notifications

John Rollins
Specialist in Terrorism and National Security

Rebecca S. Lange
Air Force Fellow

“Gang of Four” intelligence notifications generally are oral briefings of certain particularly sensitive non-covert action intelligence activities, including principally, but not exclusively, intelligence collection programs, that the Intelligence Community typically limits to the chairmen and ranking Members of the two congressional intelligence committees.

Gang of Four notifications are not based in statute but have constituted a practice generally accepted by the leadership of the intelligence committees and that is employed when the Intelligence Community believes a particular intelligence activity to be of such sensitivity that a restricted notification is warranted in order to reduce the risk of disclosure, inadvertent or otherwise. Intelligence activities viewed as being less sensitive typically are briefed to the full membership of each committee.

In either case—whether a given briefing about non-covert action intelligence activities is limited to the Gang of Four, or provided to the full membership of the intelligence committees—the current statute conditions the provision of any such information on the need to protect from unauthorized disclosure classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.

Congress has said that its intent in this regard is that in extremely rare circumstances a need to preserve essential secrecy may result in a decision not to impart certain sensitive aspects of operations or collection programs to the intelligence oversight committees in order to protect extremely sensitive intelligence sources and methods. With regard to the phrase “other exceptionally sensitive matters,” Congress has said its intent in using this phrase is to refer to other extremely sensitive categories of classified information such as information concerning the operational details of military deployment and extraordinarily sensitive diplomatic contacts, which the intelligence committees do not routinely require to satisfy their responsibilities.

This report reviews the history of Gang of Four notification process and compares this procedure with that of the “Gang of Eight” notification procedure. The “Gang of Eight” procedure is statutorily based and provides that that the chairmen and ranking Members of the intelligence committee, along with the Speaker and minority leader of the House, and Senate majority and minority leaders—rather than the full membership of the intelligence committees—are to receive prior notice of particularly sensitive covert action programs, if the President determines that limited access to such programs is essential to meet extraordinary circumstances affecting vital U.S. interests.

Date of Report: November 9, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: R40698
Price: $29.95

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House Committee Party Ratios: 98th-112th Congresses

Matthew Eric Glassman
Analyst on the Congress

The party ratio in a House of Representatives standing committee refers to the proportional number of members of each party caucus assigned to each committee. Determining sizes, ratios, and committee assignments are among the first actions taken following a general election and at the beginning of a Congress.

The Standing Rules of the House of Representatives are silent regarding committee sizes and party ratios; the apportionment of committee seats is a decision of the majority leadership that may include discussions between majority and minority party leaderships. Historically, the number of majority seats on many committees has exceeded, in varying degrees, the strength of the majority party in the House chamber, regardless of which party has been in power. In instances of close party division in the House chamber, the majority party has generally ensured that it has a majority sufficient to control voting in committees. The exception has been the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, for which House Rules guarantee an equal share of the seats to the two parties. While individual committees’ ratios may vary substantially from the proportional number of majority and minority Members of the House, the aggregate number of seats better reflects the proportion in the chamber itself, while still favoring the majority party.

This report shows House committee party ratios for 15 Congresses, covering the period from the 98
th Congress (1983-1985) through the 112th Congresses (2011-2013). 

Table 1
shows a comparison of majority party strength in the House chamber with total majority committee seats for the 98
th Congress through the 112th Congress. Unfilled seats on committees (if so noted in the Clerk’s lists or the Congressional Directory) are counted in individual and overall committee totals for consistency. 

Tables 2-16
show for each of the 15 Congresses examined, by majority, minority, and Independents (where present):

  • House party breakdown and majority margin; 
  • total committee seats, majority and minority committee seats, and majority margin; 
  • the standing and select committees (with legislative jurisdiction) as established and named in each Congress; 
  • committee seats allocated to the majority and minority parties, including Independents (where present), for each committee; and 
  • majority-minority seat margin for each committee. 

Committee ratios data for this report are from the earliest available editions of the official committee lists for each Congress issued by the Clerk of the House. Later versions of the Clerk’s lists, or the use of alternate sources or methodologies, may yield different results. Independent Members are listed separately, consistent with the Clerk’s committee lists. For each Congress, the total party division numbers reflect party strength after the November elections; they do not reflect changes due to deaths or resignations followed by special elections, or changes in party affiliation after the beginning of the Congress. Tables for each Congress include the standing committees and a permanent select committee as established and named in each Congress.

Date of Report: November 21, 2012
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R40478
Price: $29.95

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Introducing a Senate Bill or Resolution

Jessica Tollestrup
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

Ideas and recommendations for legislation come from a wide variety of sources: individual Senators, committees and other Senate work groups, and party and chamber leaders; executive branch agencies and the White House; states and localities; and ordinary citizens or interest groups. Any or all of these entities may also participate in drafting measures.

Some of the most common considerations that may be taken into account when preparing the initial draft of a bill are the following:

  • To which committee is the measure likely to be referred? 
  • How can the measure attract cosponsors? 
  • Does the measure have bipartisan appeal? 
  • Is the measure best introduced early or late in a session of Congress? 
  • What are the budgetary or appropriations implications?

Date of Report: November 20, 2012
Number of Pages: 4
Order Number: 98-459
Price: $19.95

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