Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee are warning federal agencies to ignore draft spending report language released this week by the committee.
The report language was released without being reviewed by the full committee.
The Appropriations Committee has yet to consider the two corresponding bills funding the State Department and foreign aid, and the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.
With House GOP leadership looking to combine all 2012 bills into a catch-all omnibus bill, no markups on the bills have been scheduled.
Report language makes for detailed committee recommendations, and agencies often feel pressure to abide by the wishes of appropriators who control the purse strings.
“By posting report language without even scheduling a full committee markup, the Majority leadership has short-circuited any opportunity for Members of the full Committee to review, offer amendments, or add views,” committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said in a news release. “This is a significant departure from standard committee procedure and has relegated the remaining members of our committee, on both sides of the aisle, to the position of bystanders.
“Nobody should be confused: These documents were not vetted or approved by the Members of the committee. This is a bad precedent and I’m disappointed that the Majority has decided to skip over so many essential steps in making public these drafts that pretend to express committee views.”
Following the report language could lead to significant policy changes.
For example, one section in the Transportation report could gut a congestion-mitigation program while another could end an air traffic controllers modernization effort, a staffer pointed out.
A GOP aide countered that Republicans are just being transparent and that Democrats used to post draft reports as well on the Internet without taking them to full committee.