|Senate Releases Text of Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations Bills|
SUMMARY: The Senate Appropriations Committee releases the text of all 12 appropriations bills for FY 2023 in an effort to advance bipartisan discussions on reaching a spending agreement.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of all 12 funding bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said it is his hope that, with the release of the bills and showing the priorities of the Senate Democrats, members can take a step closer toward reaching a bipartisan compromise. As you may recall, the House of Representative passed a six-bill appropriations package last week. Given the Senate Appropriations Committee has not considered these bills and the August congressional recess begins soon, it is likely that Congress will need to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) in September as funding negotiations continue.
The Senate Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill, like its House counterpart, includes many governmentwide provisions, but remains silent on the issue of federal employee pay, thereby deferring to the President’s proposal. However, the bill did state that certain senior level political appointees would receive a 4.6 percent increase next year following years of pay freezes. As you know, the President has proposed a 4.6 percent pay increase for federal employees for 2023, but his budget request was silent as to whether any amount is allocated for locality pay. According to the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act of 1990, federal employees should receive a 4.1 percent pay increase in 2023 before locality pay is added. NTEU will continue to work with Congress and the Administration in support for the FAIR Act (H.R. 6398/S. 3518), which provides an average 5.1 percent increase consisting of a 4.1 percent across-the-board increase and an average 1.0 percent for locality pay.
The FSGG bill also continues the ban on funding new outsourcing activities under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76, which is important given recent renewed calls by some in Congress to outsource additional federal jobs. Furthermore, the bill also attempts to codify a provision to prevent a future administration from enacting a scheme similar to Schedule F that, if implemented, could have affected tens of thousands of federal employees, stripping them of their civil service protections and allowing them to be hired and fired at will.
In terms of specific agency funding, the FSGG bill would provide the IRS with almost $13.6 billion for FY 2023, an increase of $1 billion over the FY 2022 enacted level, and equal to the amount approved by the House earlier this month. In particular, the bill would provide a total of $ 6.1 billion for IRS enforcement activities, an increase of $724 million above the FY 2022 level. For taxpayer services, the bill would provide $3.4 billion, an increase of $663 million from the current level. This additional funding will support IRS efforts to improve its customers service and address the correspondence backlog. The operations support account, designed to assist overall planning, direction, and support for the IRS, would be provided with $3.6 billion, while $310 million would be provided for Business Systems Modernization allowing the IRS to continue upgrading its aging information technology systems. The bill would also continue language prohibiting the IRS from paying bonuses to employees or hiring former employees without considering conduct and compliance with federal tax law. To help address the current backlog of tax returns and correspondence, the bill continues language providing IRS with direct hire authority for positions to process backlogged tax returns and return information.
The Bureau of Fiscal Service would also see a substantial increase in funding for FY 2023 under the Senate bill. The agency would be provided with more than $372 million, an increase of $16.5 million above the current level, and equal to the administration’s request. This funding will support Fiscal Service’s central role in government-wide financial operations.
While the NTEU-represented Food & Drug Administration (FDA) would receive a much-needed increase in its funding bill, the $229 million is less than the House’s proposed increase of $341 million. NTEU is asking the Senate to move towards the House amount.
The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would also receive increases in their funding under the Senate FSGG bill, with a $210 million increase in for the SEC and $16 million more for the CFTC.
The Senate’s FY 2023 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill would provide all NTEU-represented agencies with a funding increase. The bill would allocate $10.6 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is $1 billion above the FY 2022 enacted levels. This investment is targeted to tackle climate change and reduce pollution. The National Park Service (NPS) would be provided $3.57 billion in total funding, $313 million more than the previous fiscal year. Senate Appropriators have said this money will be used to restore half of the staffing losses the agency has suffered since 2010. Another agency that would receive an increase is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which would be funded at $1.53 billion; an increase of $120 million over the FY 2022 enacted levels.
The Senate’s FY 2023 Energy and Water appropriations bill also contained funding increases for NTEU-represented agencies. The Senate’s proposal would provide $49.3 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), a $4.5 billion increase over FY 2022. This funding will support a wide range of activities at the DOE including scientific discovery, energy research, the advancement of renewable energy, and environmental cleanup.
The FY 2023 Senate Department of Homeland Security funding bill would provide $16.4 billion, $1.7 billion above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This level of funding maintains CBP’s Office of Field Operations workforce, but it does not include additional funding for CBP Officers, trade specialists, agriculture inspection officers, and mission support personnel new hires. NTEU will continue to push Congress hard to include additional funding for CBP OFO new hires as House and Senate continue working on FY 2023 CBP OFO funding priorities.
In addition, the bill includes $23 million for CBP for suicide prevention clinicians and human resources resilience activities, and $23 million for 300 additional processing coordinators to take over processing of noncitizens, allowing 300 CBP Officers and Border Patrol Agents to return to the field. Also, given the continuing pandemic-related volatile nature of travel, and with current estimates still projecting user fee shortfalls in fiscal year 2023, the Senate bill would provide $187,000,000 above the request toward offsetting the projected user fee shortfall in fiscal year 2023. If the user fee collections exceed current projections, CBP may have the option to hire additional CBP Officers and mission support staff with remaining funding, prior to obligating those funds.
NTEU is pleased to see support for providing critical increases in funding for many NTEU-represented agencies in the Senate bills. Please be assured as Congress continues consideration of FY 2023 funding legislation, NTEU will continue to fight for a fair pay raise and adequate funding for all federal agencies. I will update you on further developments.
Anthony M. Reardon