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Tom Cole, Appropriations Chair

House GOP: Let’s wait for Donald Trump on FY2025 spending

Let’s talk about the FY2025 spending bills and what the outlook is for avoiding a repeat of last year’s slow-moving debacle over funding the federal government.

Based upon what we’re hearing so far — and it’s very early — things aren’t great. Part of the reason is that House Republicans hope Donald Trump wins the presidency on Nov. 5 so that he can dictate what these bills look like. We’ll explain.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on Thursday released his subcommittee allocations for the FY2025 spending. The total is $1.6 trillion. Cole’s proposal includes major cuts for non-defense spending while boosting the budget for the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security by billions of dollars.

Cole also announced that the Military Construction-VA subcommittee will begin marking up its bill on May 21. The Legislative Branch subcommittee will follow two days later. And so on for the remaining 10 bills. Cole’s timetable has all 12 bills finished by the Appropriations Committee by July 10.

This is a very ambitious schedule. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has told us that he wants to pass all 12 bills on the floor before the August break. There’s almost zero chance it actually happens, yet this is House Republicans’ starting position.

Democrats counter that Cole’s proposed spending levels violate the Fiscal Responsibility Act, last year’s debt limit and budget deal between President Joe Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Under the FRA, both defense and non-defense spending for FY 2025 was supposed to increase by 1%. Instead, non-defense spending would be cut by 6% under the Cole plan. The Labor-HHS bill would get slashed by at least 10%. There’s no way Democrats, the White House or the Senate go along with this.

Here’s Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Appropriations panel, complaining that Cole’s proposal is $75 billion short of where it should be:

And yes Swifties, that DeLauro release is for you. There are lots of Easter eggs in there.

Here’s the issue: The FRA included “side deals” worth tens of billions of dollars to help smooth the path for the final spending bills. Cole argues that neither he nor Speaker Mike Johnson were part of those side deals between Biden and McCarthy, and thus he’s not going to honor them.

However, Cole signaled that he’s open to negotiations. Or Johnson may be.

“It’s an opening position in negotiations, the way you always start,” Cole said. “If somebody above me wants to do side deals later on down the line, that’s up to them.”

On Trump: Cole and the other Appropriations “cardinals” have discussed the possibility of a continuing resolution into February if the spending bills aren’t signed into law by Sept. 30. And they won’t be, of course. Congress usually passes a CR before the election so members can return home to campaign.

But a CR with a February end date would give Trump — if he wins on Nov. 5 — the chance to weigh in on the issue. This would undermine Democrats’ ability to push for more domestic spending.

Cole doesn’t like the idea, but he acknowledges it’s under discussion:

We’ll have lots more on this in the coming days and weeks.

— John Bresnahan

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