A battle is brewing between President Obama and House Republicans over 2014 appropriations. The White House issued veto threats for the first two House-passed 2014 spending bills—for Dept. of Defense (DOD) construction-Veterans Affairs and the Dept. of Homeland Security—and any other 2014 appropriations bills that track the budget resolution the House approved in March.
In response, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote Obama, saying the president was taking a "reckless" approach and was threatening to shut down the government unless Obama gets a budget deal that he likes.
House GOP appropriators, drawing on the budget resolution, are basing their 2014 spending bills on a $967-billion overall discretionary spending cap. That is much lower than the $1.07-trillion ceiling set in the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The DOD-VA bill, which the House cleared on June 4 by a 421-4 vote, provides $9.95 billion for defense construction. That's a cut of $670 million, or 6%, from the pre-sequester fiscal 2013 total but a 2% boost from post-sequester 2013 levels, ENR estimates.
The bill slashes the VA's account for major construction projects by 36%, to $342 million, the amount Obama requested. But the measure does hike VA's program for minor construction projects by 18%, to $715 million, the same as the Obama request. VA is exempt from the sequester.
Before approving the bill, the House defeated a proposed amendment that would have prohibited funding "to implement, administer or enforce" Davis-Bacon Act prevailing-wage requirements on military and VA construction projects.
Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept., hailed the vote on the amendment. The Associated Builders & Contractors was "disappointed in the outcome," says ABC spokesman Gerry Fritz.
The House also adopted an amendment that would bar DOD from launching a new base-closure round.