As is becoming increasingly common, spending for the federal government is approved by rolling the appropriations bills for most agencies into one big bill and enacting a couple of individual spending bills. This year is no different.
Last month, Congress passed a $388 billion omnibus spending bill to fund 13 government departments and dozens of agencies and separately enacted appropriations earlier for the Defense and Homeland Security departments. The appropriations are for fiscal 2005, which began Oct. 1.
Contributing to this report were staff writers Justin Blum, Ceci Connolly, Michael Dobbs, Dan Eggen, Brian Faler, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Guy Gugliotta, Amy Joyce, Glenn Kessler, Christopher Lee, John Mintz, Dan Morgan, Thomas E. Ricks, Judy Sarasohn, Shankar Vedantam and Jonathan Weisman.
House members returned to Washington yesterday and deleted a controversial IRS provision before sending the omnibus bill to President Bush for his signature. The measure consists of more than 3,000 pages and represents one of the most austere budgets for domestic departments, with rare exceptions, in the past decade. After initial cuts and some adds, the budget also includes an across-the-board cut of 0.8 percent. Some of the departments have not determined how they will apply the 0.8 percent cut, and the numbers below generally do not reflect the across-the-board cut.
The omnibus bill also provides for an average 3.5 percent pay increase for federal civilian employees, starting in January; earlier legislation had given the same increase for military service members.
Briefly, this is how the major government agencies will fare under the omnibus and other spending bills passed for fiscal 2005.
Congress cut back the Bush administration's request for construction funding to expand facilities at the agricultural research complex in Ames, Iowa, a center of work on anthrax and mad cow disease.
Agriculture Department officials said the reduction of the request from $178 million to $122 million could delay completion by as long as one year. Expanding the facility is a high priority because of its role in conducting research on animal diseases that could threaten public health or be used in a biological warfare attack on the United States.
In other areas, however, officials praised Congress for providing adequate or increased funding for activities related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and an animal identification program deemed critical for monitoring animal health and food safety.
Funding was added for food stamps, nutritional programs for low-income mothers and children, and the McGovern-Dole school lunch program abroad.
A number of conservation programs authorized by the 2002 farm bill were trimmed below the authorized level for 2005, as congressional negotiators shifted money to other priorities. The Conservation Security Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the program that protects wetlands and farmland all fell short of authorized levels.
Congress's treatment of the budgets for the Treasury and Commerce departments shows that just because lawmakers adhere to the president's bottom line, they don't have to consent to his priorities.
Commerce received nearly $6.6 billion, $641 million more than President Bush requested and $654 million more than it received in fiscal 2004. Funded at $3.94 billion, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- a favorite avenue for lawmakers to steer money to their home states and districts -- received more than half the department's total. The president had hoped to trim NOAA's budget by $328 million from the 2004 level, but, instead, the agency received a $239 million increase.
The Commerce budget includes more evidence that cutting even small federal programs will not be easy. The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which Bush had planned to trim to $40 million, instead received $109 million, about the same amount it received last year.
Such decisions came at the expense of administration-favored programs. The White House hoped to increase the Census Bureau's budget dramatically to begin designing the 2010 census. The bureau did receive a $130 million increase, but that was almost $74 million less than Bush wanted.
Treasury showed a similar pattern. The department wound up with $11.25 billion -- $229 million more than last year, but $362 million less than what the president requested. The big difference was the Internal Revenue Service, which, at $10.3 billion, consumes virtually all of Treasury's budget.