Legislative Branch Conference Report

Washington, D.C. – The Legislative Branch Appropriations bill provides $4.836 billion to conduct oversight, accountability and transparency of federal spending and programs; improve copyright protections; and support the security, safety, and daily operations of the United States Congress and the Library of Congress.  Total funding is $136 million more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level, $46 million more than fiscal year 2019 Senate-passed bill, and $44 million less than the fiscal year 2019 House-passed bill.

Key Points & Highlights – The bill makes the following key investments:

E-File – The bill includes a provision saving nearly $1 million a year by requiring Senate candidates to file electronic campaign finance reports, ending the need for manual data entry and physical transportation of paper files.  The House has required electronic filing since 1995.  The provision will enhance transparency of campaign financing of Senate campaigns. 

Senate Intern Pay – The bill provides an average of $50,000 to each Senator’s office to be used for the sole purpose of compensating Senate interns.  This new program will help expand internships in the Senate to the broadest possible pool of candidates who have the ability and interest to serve.  Unfortunately, unpaid internships exclude students who cannot independently afford to work without pay, hindering future career opportunities and making it more difficult for Senators to attract and hire the most qualified interns, regardless of socioeconomic status.  Providing interns financial compensation will provide an avenue for more students to have the opportunity to serve their country and gain experience toward a career in public service.

Security – The United States Capitol Police provides security and law enforcement for the Capitol complex and protection for Members of Congress.  The bill provides $456.3 million for the United States Capitol Police, $29.8 million more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.  This funding will allow the Capitol Police to deploy approximately 92 more officers in accordance with the budget request.  Additional funding is provided in the bill to enhance security for Members of Congress outside of the Capitol campus because, as the 2017 shooting in Alexandria, Va. highlighted, evolving threats include the physical targeting of Members of Congress.

Oversight and Accountability – As Congress’s independent and nonpartisan “watchdog,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits and evaluates federal agencies to improve government efficiency and effectiveness and root out waste, fraud and abuse.  The bill provides $589.7 million for GAO, $10.8 million more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.  Funding provided will support an increase in staffing of 50 auditors and investigators, continuing a multi-year effort to fully restore a 10 percent loss in staffing sustained in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Library of Congress – The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library and our nation’s oldest cultural institution, with 838 miles of shelving and 12,000 items added daily as our store of knowledge continues to grow.  The bill provides $474 million, $3.4 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level, to maintain current staffing and services while continuing a comprehensive modernization on the Library’s information technology.  Ongoing efforts at the Library continue in the planning phase, with prior year funding, to launch a new public-private partnership to enhance the visitors experience.  Future funding will support construction to bring more of the Library’s collections out from the vaults and into exhibition spaces for public display, enable better public access to the Reading Room, and enhance basic services to better accommodate visitors.

Copyright Protections & Modernization – The Copyright Office protects the ownership of creative content, supporting both small and large businesses in the arts, information, entertainment, and technology sectors.  The bill supports $93.4 million for the Copyright Office, $21.4 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.  This amount includes $43.6 million in direct appropriations.  This funding begins a long-awaited effort to create electronic systems for copyright registration and recordation and also supports digitization of historic copyright records dating to 1870.

Safety & Historic Preservation – The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) is responsible for the maintenance, operation and preservation of 16.5 million square feet of buildings and more than 450 acres of land throughout the Capitol complex and its annexes.  The bill provides $733.7 million for the AOC, $21.6 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.  This funding will help alleviate part of the deferred maintenance backlog identified by the AOC on both the Capitol campus and at the Library of Congress, including security infrastructure, fire alarm upgrades, and improvements to building egress.

Budget Transparency – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provides objective, timely and non-partisan analyses to inform Congress’s economic and budgetary deliberations.  The bill provides $50.7 million for CBO, $792,000 more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level, to continue providing high-quality analyses that are greatly valued by Congress and the public.  This increase in funding will enable CBO to hire additional staff to support the agency’s plans to provide additional transparency of its modeling and cost estimate processes.

World-Class Research – The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides expert, non-partisan policy and legal analysis to Congress.  The bill provides $125.7 million for CRS, $6.4 million more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.  This funding continues investments in modernizing the agency’s research platform, including for large datasets, and also begins an effort to restore staffing losses totaling more than 10 percent.  Funding included in the bill also ensures that the agency will have sufficient resources to begin making all non-confidential CRS reports available online, as required by recently-enacted legislation.