Skip to content

Advocacy at a Glance

July 12, 2019

House and Senate Action (or Lack) on FY 20 Appropriations. The House has passed 11 of 13 appropriations bills. Action on the last two — Legislative Branch and Homeland Security (HS) — was expected in July but this now looks unlikely. The Legislative bill is held up by disagreements on Congressional pay; HS by bad feelings over the late June passage of a supplemental appropriations bill that lacked constraints on border wall funding and immigration activities of the Trump Administration. Beyond that, HS issues have generally become thornier over the last 2 years. Meantime, the Senate was expected to proceed with appropriations bills in July — based on either a budget deal or by deeming a set of spending numbers to get the process going. However, Senate Republican’s leadership has rethought this and are now looking for fruitful discussions (if not an actual budget deal) before the Senate starts marking-up bills.

FY 20 Appropriations: Apocalypse Now? No! We hear daily reports on the lack of progress on a budget deal and the dire consequences. The situation is certainly grim, but it is very far from lost. This is an avoidable crisis. All of the players realize this is so (see here). There is enough time to get the job done if there is will to do it. This, and possible impacts for FDA, are discussed further in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

Debt Ceiling May Need To Be Considered Separately from the Budget Deal. Since at least May, the prevailing view is that Congress would raise the debt ceiling as part of the budget deal. Few, if any Members benefit from forcing two votes, rather than one vote on a comprehensive package. This approach came into question this week when the Bipartisan Budget Center released an analysis of federal revenue and expenses. This suggested that the default deadline could be as early as the first half of September. That would require agreements prior to the August recess, which may be too soon for all of the details of a budget deal to be worked out. One possibility is that Congress will need to shorten its recess.

Administration Proposal for a 1-Year FY 20 Continuing Resolution Not the Basis of Current Discussions. So far, the Administration has found few Congressional supporters for a 1-year FY 20 CR at FY 19 spending levels. Notably, a group of 15 Republican Senators sent a letter to Administration officials describing the negative consequences for national defense if a full-year bill is not in place. Presumably, the House would agree with the Senate, but as much because of the impact on domestic programs as defense. Also, any deal around a CR would require changing or suspending the Budget Control Act of 2011’s (BCA) limits on spending; otherwise the CR, by itself, would not block the $130+ billion cuts (from FY 19 spending levels) that are required under the BCA. At week’s end, Hill staffers were preparing for a number of different scenarios, but the preferred approach seems to be: resolve the BCA limits for FY 20 and FY 21 at the same time … and in the same bill that also resolves the debt limit deadline.

Comments are closed.