Action Alert

Budget Action Alert

The Omnibus Spending Bill

Budget Action Alert

On January 17, 2014, President Obama signed an Omnibus spending bill, HR 3547, to approve $1.1 trillion in Government spending after it had been passed by Congress. This bill replaces most of the sequester cuts that took place in 2013 with new spending measures. The bill is called an Omnibus bill because it includes spending levels for each committee instead of separating these expenditures into twelve individual bills that would normally need to be passed by each appropriations subcommittee. The overall spending level for the Federal Government was set in December of 2013 when the Senate and House agreed on a bipartisan budget deal.

To further explain the Omnibus bill, a short description of the major aspects is included below. Most of the data has been aggregated by the writers and researchers at Congressional Quarterly, and it provides a synopsis of the most relevant spending changes.Overall, this bill is a type of resetting of spending for all Government agencies that had seen their expenditures effectively frozen for the last few years. Regular appropriations for discretionary spending are set at approximately $1 trillion and roughly $100 billion was added for emergency war spending and disaster relief to make the total of the spending bill reach $1.1 trillion. Additionally, Congressional Quarterly adds this statement to their coverage: “Please note that numbers in Omnibus-related documents issued by the House and the Senate may differ due to how they account for sequestration."

Agriculture – According to the text of the bill, agricultural programs will receive an increase in overall funding for the current fiscal year. Helena Bottemiller Evich of Politico points out that the Food and Drug Administration is expected to receive a $91 million increase, and rural development projects will receive a $180 million increase in the Omnibus bill. Additionally, funding for domestic nutrition programs will be roughly $4 billion higher in 2014 than in 2013, and over $2 billion more than the President’s budgeted amount for 2013. The below graph reflects the spending categories for Domestic Nutrition Programs under the Omnibus bill. All values are in millions of dollars.


Commerce, Justice, Science – Within the Department of Justice and several science-related agencies, federal spending will increase by about 3 percent over 2013 spending levels.While NASA will get a $100 million increase under the Omnibus bill, the National Science Foundation will receive about $80 million less in the coming fiscal year.The Federal Prison System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will see increases under the Omnibus bill compared to 2013 levels at about $70 million and $200 million respectively. Funding for the Commerce Department, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will remain about the same under the 2014 spending bill.

Defense – Spending for the Department of Defense comprises almost half of government spending under the Omnibus bill. While overall spending will be about $30 billion less than it was in 2013, it is appropriated at significantly higher levels than it would have been under 2014 sequestration level. Appropriations are up for almost every branch of military personnel except for the Army Reserve and National Guard. Areas of decreased spending for all branches of the military include procurement, operations, and research and development. Additionally, all overseas disaster relief has been eliminated from appropriations, down from $88 million in 2013.

Energy-Water – Appropriations for energy and water projects are greatly increased from 2013 levels under the Omnibus bill, excluding money that was spent on Hurricane Sandy relief. Science programs, as well as renewable energy and nuclear energy programs, are all being appropriated more money in 2014 than they received in 2013. However, the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program will receive nearly $500 million less in 2014, signifying a slowing-down of the dismantling of atomic weapons.

Financial Services – Overall, the Financial Services federal sector will receive about a $600 million increase in funding under the Omnibus appropriations bill. One source of decreased spending for financial services in 2014 is the Internal Revenue Service, which is being appropriated over $500 million less than it received in 2013. The Executive Office of the President and the Office of Personnel Management appropriations levels are remaining relatively level, while funding for the District of Columbia services are decreasing by about $2,000 in fiscal year 2014.

Homeland Security – Appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security will decrease by over $12 billion in fiscal year 2014 compared to 2013. Funding for border security programs will increase by $200 million, but funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including the Transportation Security Administration, will decrease by about $200 million. Appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also decrease in the Omnibus bill, from almost $11 billion in 2013 to $10 billion in the 2014 fiscal year.

Interior-Environment – Overall, the environmental agencies will receive fewer funds in 2014 compared to what was spent, but the grand total for this sector is higher than what the President proposed in his requested budget. The Forest Service, which seeks to contain and fight wildfires, will receive almost $300 million more compared to fiscal year 2013. The Indian Health Service is also receiving an increase in funds for the coming year. The Environmental Protection Agency is being appropriated $142 million less in 2014 than the previous year.

Labor-HHS-Education – Funding in the Omnibus bill for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services will be about $100 million less than what was spent in 2013. Spending for health care services will increase in 2014, with nearly $18 billion more being spent on Medicare. Appropriations for the Department of Education will decrease in 2014, but legislators have put an emphasis on Head Start programs. Overall spending for the Department of Labor will be about the same as what was enacted in 2013. This chart depicts the division of spending for these departments last year and under the spending bill. Figures are in thousands of dollars of new budget authority and include mandatory programs:


Fiscal 2013
enacted appropriations

Fiscal 2014
Obama request

committee report

Fiscal 2014








Department of Health and Human Services










Medicaid state grants





National Institutes of Health





Child and family services





Education Department





Education for the disadvantaged (Title I grants)





Pell grants





Special education grants





Labor Department





Source: House and Senate Appropriations Committee    

Legislative Branch – Appropriations for the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government are scheduled to be slightly less than the $1.2 billion spent in 2013. The biggest portion of the funds will be used for Congressional operations. The architect of the Capitol will be granted $100 million in 2014, and about $720,000 will be given for enhanced oversight of intelligence issues.

Military Construction-VA – In the Omnibus bill for fiscal year 2014, funding for base construction projects and military housing will be increased by about $1.4 billion from what was spent in 2013. Services for Veterans such as the Benefits Administration and the Health Administration will also receive more funding than 2013 under the Omnibus bill. The Veterans’ Benefits Administration is being appropriated $11 billion more in 2014, with most of the increased funds being used for veterans’ pension funds. In the December budget deal, pensions for veterans were going to be cut, but legislators restored all pensions for both retired military personnel and the spouses of deceased veterans in the Omnibus bill.

State-Foreign Operations – Overall funding for foreign military operations and foreign aid will be down in 2014 under the Omnibus bill. Specifically, overseas contingency operations spending, especially in Afghanistan, will decrease by about $5 billion. According to The Hill newspaper, the bill prohibits implementation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which has been opposed by gun-rights advocates.While peacekeeping operations will receive less funding in 2014, nuclear nonproliferation and foreign military funding will each receive about $50 million more than what was enacted in 2013. Migration and refugee assistance programs will receive an increase in appropriations from $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.

Transportation-HUD – The final section of the Omnibus bill coves appropriations for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Spending for these departments will decrease by $961 million from pre-sequester 2013 levels. The federal Aviation Administration is also seeing a cut in funding, by about $200 million for fiscal year 2014. Projects that provide rental and homeless assistance, as well as public housing will all see a slight increase from 2013 enacted levels.

Posted or updated: 3/4/2014 11:00:00 PM

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Action Alerts

Take Action

What can you do?

  • Convene a discussion, and write a letter to your congressional representative outlining your views on the President’s priorities for 2014.
  • H.R. 2642: Agricultural Act of 2014 This bill authorizes agricultural and nutrition programs in the United States for the next five years. Read the bill and let your congressional representative know that you support efforts to make sure that farm bill policy will not further create more poverty or income inequality in America.
  • Follow the President’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal as it moves through Congress after it is issued March 4, 2014.
  • Read ¶4111 United States Economic Issues (pp. 596-599) and ¶163 IV. The Economic Community, “The Social Principle” (p. 513) of the 2012 Book of Resolutions for guidance and calls to action on elections and  politics.

2014 Food Stamp Reforms

•    Reduces SNAP benefits by $8 billion, affecting an estimated 850,000 households by an average of $90 per month.
•    Increases assistance for food banks by $205 million.
•    Establishes a 10-state pilot to empower states to engage able-bodied adults in mandatory work programs.
•    Prohibits USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment activities, and advertising SNAP on TV, radio, billboards and through foreign governments.

State of the Union Spending Priorities

•    Raising the Minimum Wage through Executive Order to $10.10 for Federal Contract Workers
•    Creating “myRA” – A New Starter Savings Account to help millions save for retirement
•    Launching four new manufacturing institutes in 2014
•    Partnering with many of America’s leading CEOs to help the long-term unemployed
•    Connecting 20 million students in 15,000 schools to the best technology to enrich K-12 education
Source: White House Press Office