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Federal Appropriations Process Begins

Schatz Highlights Importance of Defense Funding at Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee began the process of developing legislation to fund the federal government for 2017.  At a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this morning, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) underscored the important role the Air Force plays in our national security and our strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific.

“This is the beginning of our process of securing federal funding for Hawai‘i,”
said Senator Schatz, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  “We were able to make some big gains for defense, transportation, and clean energy last year, and I look forward to building on our work so that our military will have the resources necessary to sustain Hawai‘i's long-term role in the rebalance to the Asia Pacific.”

Senator Schatz worked to include key Hawai‘i priorities in last year’s appropriations deal.  That legislation, which was signed into law, increased federal spending in Hawai‘i for FY16, growing defense funding by more than $200 million and transportation funding by nearly $10 million.

The appropriations process starts with each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees developing a bill covering each agency under its jurisdiction. Those bills must then be passed individually by both houses of Congress and signed by the president before the start of the fiscal year. In recent years, the Congress has been unable to meet its deadline and has instead used “continuing resolutions” or short-term funding bills to buy enough time to pass a large all-encompassing package known as an omnibus.  This fast-moving, irregular process has led to contentious deals with no opportunities for debate, scrutiny, or amendments.

This year, leaders in the Senate and the House have voiced their strong support for returning to the regular appropriations process which would result in more transparency and better opportunities for amendments on critical spending bills.