SUMMARY: Fiscal Year 2020 Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C. –The fiscal year 2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill provides $3.593 billion in discretionary budget authority, excluding items pertaining solely to the House, which total an additional $1.499 billion.  Total funding accommodated in the bill is $5.092 billion, which is $256 million more than the fiscal 2019 enacted level and $197 million less than the budget request.

The bill provides critical funding for the operations of the Government Accountability Office, the United States Capitol Police, the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies of 2021.

Key Points & Highlights

  • Senate Intern Pay.  The bill provides a total of $6 million for intern pay, an increase of $1 million above fiscal year 2019.  This allows for an average of $60,000 to each Senator’s office to be used for the sole purpose of compensating interns.  In its second year, this successful program will continue to 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 financial compensation provides an avenue for more students to have the opportunity to serve their country and gain experience toward a career in public service.
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO).  As Congress’s independent and nonpartisan “watchdog,” the GAO audits and evaluates federal agencies to improve government efficiency and effectiveness and root out waste, fraud and abuse.  The bill provides $639.4 million for GAO, $49.7 million more than fiscal year 2019.  Funding will support hiring additional staff to better respond to Congressional requests for oversight.  The need for additional Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) accounts for the increase in congressional requests to assess technology and science, cybersecurity threats, investments in government agencies, and rising health care costs.
  • United States Capitol Police.  The United States Capitol Police provides security and law enforcement for the Capitol complex and protection for Members of Congress.  The bill provides $464.3 million for the United States Capitol Police, $8 million more than fiscal year 2019.  This funding will allow the Capitol Police to deploy up to 57 more sworn officers and an additional civilian position in the Office of Inspector General.  The bill doubles funding to $2 million to continue enhancing 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.  The bill also fully funds the budget request of $6.9 million to cover the costs associated with the 2020 National Presidential Conventions and costs needed to prepare for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration.
  • Library of Congress.  The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and an unmatched source of information for Congress and the American people.  The bill provides $514.6 million for the Library, which is $40.5 million more than the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, to continue and expand necessary modernization and optimization efforts in Library operations.  The bill fully funds the Library’s request of $10 million to continue to support the planning and development of the Visitor Experience, a public-private partnership to enhance visitors’ experiences at the Library of Congress by expanding, revitalizing, and better showcasing the Library’s available programs and historical artifacts.  This brings the total federal investment provided thus far for the project to $20 million.
  • Copyright Office.  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 $92 million for the Copyright Office, which is $1.5 million less than fiscal year 2019 and $1.2 million less than the budget request.  This amount includes $42.1 million in direct appropriations.  This funding will allow the Copyright Office to continue year two of a long-awaited effort to create electronic systems for copyright registration and recordation and also supports digitization of historic copyright records dating to 1870.
  • Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The Congressional Budget Office provides objective, timely and non-partisan analyses to inform Congress’s economic and budgetary deliberations.  The bill provides $54.9 million for CBO, $4.2 million more than fiscal year 2019, to continue providing high-quality analyses that are greatly valued by Congress and the public.  The increase will allow CBO to hire an estimated 6 new employees for additional transparency of its modeling and cost estimate processes and responsiveness efforts.
  • Building Safety and Maintenance.  The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) maintains all of the buildings within the Capitol complex to ensure the safety of constituents, visitors, staff, and Members of Congress. The bill provides $585.9 million, $49.1 million more than fiscal year 2019, excluding items solely pertaining to the House.  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; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades, and improvements to building egress.
  • Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies of 2021.  The bill fully funds the budget request of $1.5 million for the Joint Committee.  This appropriation is provided every four years to provide for the expenses associated with the planning of the Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies.  The recommendation is $250,000 above the fiscal year 2016 appropriation.

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