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Advocacy at a Glance

May 17, 2019

Mixed Signals on Whether the White House Wants a Budget Deal. Early this week, the story was that the President didn’t want a budget deal that would raise the caps on defense and non-defense spending for FY 20. Apparently, he wanted a short-term solution that would preserve his ability to fight for massive spending cuts in subsequent years. Mid-week, the story reversed. Reportedly, after talking with Senator McConnell, the President seemed willing to consider a bipartisan package to raise the spending caps. Meantime, the President is the pivotal player. The caps are in law (the Budget Control Act of 2011) and only a subsequent law could alter them.  If the President were to veto a budget deal, Congress would have no choice but to cut spending. If not, sequestration would kick in with the same effect: $70 billion in cuts below FY 19 defense spending and $50 billion in cuts below FY 19 non-defense spending. This is explained further in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

The Senate Is Waiting, but Probably Not for Much Longer.  Despite the lack of a budget deal, the House created 302(b) subcommittee allocations and started marking up bills. Senate appropriators have had to stand by, clearly frustrated. They are reluctant to follow the House’s approach, but may have no choice if a budget deal is still weeks away. Accordingly, there is talk that the Senate may start marking up bills after the Memorial Day recess. If they do so, Senate Appropriations Chairman  Richard Shelby has stated his intention to use different numbers than the House.

The House is Working Fast, but Ag/FDA Has Not Yet Been Scheduled. Most of the House Appropriations subcommittee bills will have seen some activity before the House leaves on May 23 for the Memorial Day Recess. While Ag/FDA has not been scheduled, there is a strong likelihood that the subcommittee mark-up will occur just before they leave next week. It is still the committee’s goal of having bills ready for the floor in early June and passed before the end of that month. We understand that House appropriators are already looking to group several subcommittee bills into minibuses to expedite passage.

Budget and Appropriations Are a Mess; Is This Year Any Worse?   The answer is “probably not.” This week’s Analysis and Commentary explains why.

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