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Advocacy at a Glance

July 26, 2019

Budget Deal at Last: Resolves Top-Line Numbers for FY 20 and 21: In dramatic fashion, a two-year budget deal came together earlier this week, encompassing both higher spending limits and suspension of the debt ceiling. House and Senate leadership and the White House are in full agreement on a bill that creates discretionary defense and non-defense spending caps for the next two fiscal years, at levels that are significantly above the ceilings imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. For non-defense spending — which faced $55 billion in budget cuts below the FY 19 spending level — the bill includes $27 billion more in FY 20 and another $2.5 billion in FY 2021. Notably, the bill lessens potential political problems ahead of the 2020 election: debt ceiling will not be an issue and there is a greatly reduced possibility of a stalemate over government funding.

House Votes 284-149 on Budget Deal; Senate to Vote Next Week. As one of its last acts before the long August recess, the House passed the budget deal legislation by a vote of 284-149. There were more than enough Democratic votes to assure passage; while most conservative Republican House members were not assuaged by President’s Trump’s support for the bill and voted “No.” The House is slated to return on September 10.

The Senate is expected to vote next week, with widespread support anticipated. President Trump has indicated he would sign the legislation when it gets to him. Next Friday, the Senate will recess until the week of September 9.

Q&A In This Week’s Analysis and Commentary. The budget deal and “what comes next” has generated a lot of questions. The next story below (“Between Now and October 1”) answers some of them. This week’s Analysis and Commentary is devoted to further Q&A, including the all-important: how does the budget deal affect FDA?  If you have questions we didn’t answer, please e-mail them to Steven Grossman.

Between Now and October 1: A Lot Needs to Happen. The House has passed 10 of the 12 appropriations bills — lacking agreement on only Legislative Branch appropriations (Congressional pay raise) and Homeland Security (a number of border security issues). It is unclear whether the House will be able to act on these bills in September; otherwise, the agencies supported by those bills will be funded under a short-term Continuing Resolution.

In contrast, the Senate has held no appropriations committee mark-ups on FY 20 funding bills and has to hope to move the bills through subcommittee, committee, and floor votes in 3 weeks and conference the bills with the House by October 1. Whatever hasn’t gotten through by the start of the new fiscal year will, presumably, be funded under a short-term Continuing Resolution. To make any realistic progress, the Senate appropriations subcommittees will need to receive 302(b) allocations, which tell each subcommittee how much they can spend in FY 20. It is reported that: SAC Chairman Richard Shelby is expected to set 302(b)s by the end of next week or early the following week. Those numbers have not yet been released. Once the allocations are made, committee staff can put together draft bills that the Senate appropriations subcommittees can mark-up as soon as they return.

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