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OUR PERSPECTIVES

Lessons from FY24 Appropriations



Early Saturday morning, the Senate passed, and the President quickly signed, a minibus containing the remainder of Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations and narrowly avoided a government shutdown. The FY24 appropriations process was an extraordinary marathon that bled over almost 6 months into the current fiscal year, led to the ouster of the Speaker of the House, and dominated Congress’ attention for over a year. As the focus shifts to the upcoming fiscal year, here are a few takeaways to apply to future appropriations cycles:


Be Patient: Congress is not always a nimble institution. And drafting, negotiating, and passing appropriations legislation is a massive undertaking. Due to the importance of directing the flow of federal funds, political maneuvering often hinders the process. However, appropriator and congressional leadership are always eventually able to find a solution.

 

Be Resilient: Monitoring the appropriations process can be turbulent, especially for those who feel they have skin in the game. In addition to the length of time that it can take to produce full-year appropriations, the fear of a government shutdown can be nerve-wracking. This time, Congress was able to avoid a shutdown at the last minute on multiple occasions, but organizations should absolutely prepare for a scenario when the negotiating process breaks down and a shutdown occurs. Whether it’s for a few hours or a few weeks, the economic toll of a government shutdown is something stakeholders should be prepare for well in advance.

 

Expect Compromise and Quick Negotiation: When former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was initially selected by House Republicans to lead the party, he promised to rein in the Senate, deliver significant spending cuts, and produce results on GOP priorities like immigration reform. After a perceived failure to do so by an outspoken faction of his party, he was recalled as Speaker and soon thereafter left Congress. His successor, Speaker Mike Johnson, made similar promises and is now also facing a motion to vacate after he leveraged Democratic votes to pass multiple continuing resolutions and the final legislation during his tenure. Although often criticized by hardliners, negotiation and compromise are the bedrock of congressional action.

 

Prepare Your Requests Early: Despite the President’s Budget being released just two weeks ago, some congressional offices have already wrapped their formal solicitation of appropriations requests, even though guidance has yet to be published by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. To effectively engage in this process, prepare your requests and stay in constant communication with congressional staff well before the upcoming fiscal year. If you’ve waited until major announcements on funding priorities are made in the spring of a new fiscal year, it’s already too late.

 

During the two-week recess into early April, congressional staff will use the down time to organize appropriations priorities and hear requests from constituents and stakeholders. Take advantage of this time effectively by socializing your organization’s requests through targeted meetings with personal and committee staff. Be sure to discuss your proposals with members from both parties whenever possible, as priorities with bipartisan, bicameral support have a significantly higher chance of becoming law.

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