With the exception of those unhappy with some of the specific provisions included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, most of D.C. let out a collective sigh of relief at the conclusion of negotiations addressing the debt ceiling. And while avoiding default on our national debt brings temporary relief, Congress is about to pick up their appropriations work with little time left in the fiscal year. Of the dozen appropriations bills that cover federal programming, staffing, and initiatives, several will be considered at full committee markups in the weeks to come. By actively participating in the appropriations process, organizations can influence budgetary decisions and ensure adequate funding for essential programs.
Language in the debt ceiling bill capping funding for FY24 and FY25 makes this year’s appropriations process particularly critical. The bill cuts nondefense discretionary spending for FY24 – a move that amounts to an overall spending cut of about 1% from FY23. It also limits all discretionary spending to a 1% increase in FY25. Finally, if Congress does not pass the twelve appropriation bills this year and next year by December 31st, then discretionary spending for defense and nondefense programs will be cut by 1% in each fiscal year. These funding caps mean that acting early and engaging often is more important than ever.
By participating in the appropriations process, your organization has the opportunity to:
Directly influence the allocation of federal resources. Perhaps more so than any other aspect of the legislative process, the appropriations process directly affects the economy by determining the allocation of federal resources. Extensive planning and effort are necessary to secure funding for infrastructure projects, research initiatives, community development, and small business support programs. By influencing budget priorities, organizations can help create a more favorable business environment, increased job opportunities, and sustainable economic development.
Safeguard programs that serve the public interest. By staying informed and involved, organizations can advocate for funding priorities that align with their missions and values. Advocacy for funding for programs that address healthcare accessibility, affordable housing, and support for marginalized communities could bridge gaps across regions and demographics. Active engagement helps prevent potential budget cuts or misallocation of resources that could adversely affect communities and important services.
Contribute to long-term planning and fiscal responsibility. By monitoring budget decisions and providing input, individuals can contribute to a sustainable fiscal policy that balances the nation's needs with its financial capacity. Effective advocacy and engagement can help ensure that the appropriations process aligns with long-term goals, such as reducing the national debt, investing in education and innovation, and creating a secure economic future.
Encourage good governance. Engaging with elected officials empowers individuals to play an active role in policy formulation and ensures that government spending is aligned with the needs and aspirations of the electorate. Want congressional appropriators to adhere to the funding levels set by authorizing statutes? Let them know. By providing feedback on funding levels, attending committee hearings, and engaging with elected officials, citizens can help shape budgetary decisions in a way that reflects their concerns and aspirations.
With roughly six weeks of legislative session days remaining before the August recess, now is the time to take action. Join advocacy groups, attend public hearings, and contact your elected representatives to voice your priorities and concerns. Stay informed about budget proposals, understand their implications, and make sure your perspective is heard. Act now to shape the appropriations process before the fiscal year comes to a close – the work done by advocacy groups and stakeholders in the next will set the stage for years to come.