What’s in the FY2018 House legislative branch appropriation?

By: Casey Burgat

The House Appropriations Committee approved Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations via a June 29 voice vote. The bill calls for $3.58 billion of funding for House and joint-chamber operations (Senate-specific items are not included), a full $100 million more than the enacted FY2017 funding levels. It should, however, be noted that the FY2018 appropriation is much lower than the appropriation of FY2010.

On the same day, the committee released a full report explaining the appropriating rationale.

What is actually included in the bill? Who won and who lost the funding battles?

Big Winners

Security: In light of the recent shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., staffer Zachary Barth, and Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey, the committee clearly saw a need to boost various forms of security for members and the government. The Capitol Police received an increase of $29 million, the House sergeant-at-arms budget was upped $5 million to $20.5 million, and $10 million of that was itemized to enhance the cybersecurity program of the chief administrative officer (CAO).

Architect of the Capitol (AOC): The stewards of the capitol complex, from building maintenance to landscaping, received a $48.4 million increase in funds over FY2017 enacted levels. The committee instructed the AOC to spend the appropriated $577.8 million on efforts that “promote the safety and health of workers and occupants, decrease the deferred maintenance backlog, and invest to achieve future energy savings.”

Library of Congress (LOC): For FY2018, the Library of Congress’ appropriations were increased $16.9 million to $648 million in an effort to modernize information technology and copyright efforts, as well as provide more funds ($3.5 million) to Congress’ nonpartisan think tank, the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Additionally, $29 million of the AOC’s appropriation was itemized for improvement and maintenance of LOC buildings and grounds.

Transparency: After years of debating the issue, the appropriators directed CRS to make all of its nonconfidential reports available to the public. The agency was given 90 days to submit an implementation plan, including cost estimates, to its oversight committees.

Big Losers

House Office Buildings: Despite the AOC receiving a sizable bump in appropriations, the amount allocated for the maintenance and care of the four House office buildings initially was chopped by $23.4 million from FY2017 levels. $4 million was later amended by voice vote, leaving the cut at $19.4 million.

Members Representational Allowance (MRA): The funding stream allowing members of the House to hire more and better compensate current congressional staffers remained at FY2017 levels ($562.6 million). “This level of funding will allow the MRAs to operate at authorized levels as approved by the Committee on House Administration,” declared the committee. What it will not do is reverse the long decline in congressional staff levels and salaries.

Government Accountability Office (GAO): Though not a decrease in funding levels, GAO was granted only a $450,000 bump in funds, despite a requested $46 million increase over FY2017 enacted levels. The agency requested the substantial increase for FY2018 chiefly for increased staffing in order to reduce the amount of improper governmental payments, identify ways to close the gap between taxes owed and taxes paid, and assist Congress in determining “policy implications of increasingly complex and rapidly evolving development of science and technology.” Instead of comparably larger increases enjoyed by sister agencies CRS ($3.5 million) and the Congressional Budget Office ($2 million), GAO’s appropriation remained relatively flat at $568 million.

Legislative Branch Appropriation Bill Specifics

Capitol Police: FY2018 funding levels increased $29 million to $422.5 million, including an increase of $7.5 million to “enhance Member protection, increased training, equipment and technology-related support items”; an increase of $13.2 million for Capitol Police buildings and grounds; and half-year funds to hire 48 additional sworn officers.

House Sergeant-at-Arms: An increase of $5 million with the “intent of enhancing security for Members when they are away from the Capitol complex. The Committee is aware that a specific plan is still evolving and once fully developed a plan will be presented to the Committee.”

Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA): though the MRA remains at FY2017 levels ($562.6 million), “the Committee has provided resources necessary to support the Committee on House Administration’s plan to increase Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA) by $25,000 per account this year for the purpose of providing Member security when away from the Capitol complex.”

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO): The CAO received an additional $10 million for strengthened cybersecurity measures. Additionally, the committee suggested that “with effective management of the program and continued support in appropriations, sufficient funding exists” to increase the number of two-year fellows partaking in the CAO’s Wounded Warrior Program from 54 to 85.

House Leadership Offices: FY2018 funding levels remained constant at $22.3 million.

House Committees: Appropriations for the salaries and expenses of House committees decreased by $45,004, from $150,324,377 in FY2017 to $150,279,373 for FY2018.

Joint Committees: The Joint Committee on Taxation received an increase of $360,000 to $10.46 million, while the Joint Economic Committee’s funding remained at $4.2 million.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO): Funding levels increased $2 million, from $46.5 million in FY2017 to $48.5 million for FY2018.

Architect of the Capitol (AOC): FY2018 funding levels increased $48 million to $578 million, including a $12.7 million increase for care and maintenance of the U.S. Capitol; $20 million increase in funding for the Capitol Power Plant; a $29 million increase for Library of Congress buildings and grounds; and a decrease of $27.4 million for House office buildings maintenance.

Congressional Research Service (CRS): Funding levels increased $3.5 million from $108 million in FY2017 to $111.5 million for FY2018.

Government Publishing Office (GPO): FY2018 funding levels remained constant at $117 million.

Office of Compliance: FY2018 funding levels remained flat at $3.6 million.


Two amendments to the FY2018 legislative branch appropriations bill were adopted by the Appropriations Committee.

  1. The manager’s amendment from Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., added $4 million to House office building maintenance. Instead of a decrease of $27.4 million, the amendment makes the decrease $23.4 million.
  2. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., sponsored an amendment that directed CAO to submit a report to committee within 90 days “addressing the ways in which Members and staff who have hiring and management responsibilities can be given the tools to combat unconscious bias in hiring and promotion, and with education on the negative impact of bias.”