The adoption of a budget resolution clears the way for the appropriations committees to meet and distribute what are called the "302 B allocations" to each subcommittee. It is anticipated that the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a relatively generous allocation, perhaps as much as an 8 percent increase over FY 2009. Once allocations are decided, the hard work of dividing up funding among programs at the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services begins. Congress will wait for budget details from the administration before those details are made public or finalized. That information should reach Capitol Hill by mid May.
Congressional leaders have made it clear that the goal is to finish the budget and appropriations process by Sept. 30, the last day of the current fiscal year. That means mark-ups and floor debates will be held during June and July, and final conferencing and adoption of spending bills will take place in the early fall. It is an ambitious schedule given all the other legislative priorities that have been announced, such as reforming the health care system, reinventing the student loan program, enacting climate change and other energy-related policies, plus a long list of tax considerations. The backdrop to all this activity is the effort from government agencies to distribute, and states to spend, the funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The next recess period comes at the end of May, and for many that won't be soon enough.