The Heritage Foundation yesterday launched its fiscal year (FY) 2012 Appropriations Tracker, which monitors the progress of appropriations bills as they move through the House and Senate. The tracker will be updated regularly to reflect the most recent status of these discretionary spending bills as they progress through each chamber.

Appropriators are aiming to meet the $1.043 trillion limit established under the Budget Control Act (BCA), the product of last summer’s debt ceiling negotiations. (The BCA does not specify amounts for individual appropriations bills.) Because this spending target is disturbingly high, the tracker measures the appropriators’ bills against three other important benchmarks.

The first comparison is with enacted FY 2011 levels, which total approximately $1.05 trillion. Second, the tracker compares bills with amounts in the House-passed budget resolution for FY 2012, which reduced total appropriations to $1.019 trillion (excluding war funding). This is the minimum degree of spending reduction appropriators should be striving for.

Third, the spending bills are compared to the FY 2008 spending levels to show how much work Congress has to do just to return to the levels in place prior to the stimulus and bailout spending binge of 2009–2010.

To date the House has passed six of the 12 FY 2012 appropriations bills. Three other House appropriations bills have been reported by the House Appropriations Committee and are awaiting a vote by the full House. One bill is still in the Appropriations Committee, while two bills are still in progress in the Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Senate, which never passed a budget resolution this year, has passed only one bill. Ten other measures have been reported by the Appropriations Committee and are awaiting a vote by the full Senate, and one bill is currently being drafted by the Subcommittee. Senators this week plan to take up three bills—Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD—in a single package called a “minibus.” These bills are denoted with a pound sign (#) in the tracker.

As they stand at this point, spending in the House appropriations bills totals $1.040 trillion, $3 billion below the BCA cap but well above both the budget resolution and FY 2008 levels. The total for the Senate bills to date exceeds even the BCA cap by $800 million. Both the House and Senate have indicated they plan to provide the President’s request of $126.5 billion for war funding, which is not counted against the cap levels.

As these bills move through the Congress, check back here to monitor their progress.