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Advocacy at a Glance

October 25, 2019

Final Senate Action on “Domestic” Minibus (Including Ag/FDA) Set for Next Week. The Senate has begun debate on H.R. 3055, a minibus that funds the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Justice, plus the FDA, EPA and National Science Foundation. The Senate’s intent is to substitute its own committee-passed bills (summaries and text) with the House-passed text. They will then consider some portion of the hundreds of amendments being proposed by Senators. A final vote should occur next week. That will tee up House and Senate negotiations on funding those agencies, but no final agreements on the minibus are likely to be reached before the subcommittee 302(b) allocations are set. Without that, the conference committee members will not know how much they can spend on each component of the minibus.

Congressional Movement on Appropriations Still Limited Until 302(b) Allocations Are Set. In the background — but actually of primary importance — the House and Senate continue to exchange offers on the 302(b) allocations that determine how much money can be spent on each of the 12 subcommittee bills. Because the House-passed levels total about $15 billion more than the budget deal agreed to this summer, the impasse cannot be broken by some variation of “splitting the difference” between the House and Senate levels. In addition, there are fundamental differences in House and Senate funding priorities and the White House is insisting that monies be available to support border wall construction, which Democrats oppose. This week’s Analysis and Commentary looks at why final action on appropriations bills is dependent on a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on 302(b) allocations.

Update: Shutdown on November 21 Unlikely, but Not Impossible. Last week’s Analysis and Commentary (here) discussed the possibility (raised in a WP article) that the current CR (expiring November 21) might end in a government shutdown instead of another CR. While this could be saber-rattling on the part of the White House, we concluded that a shutdown “cannot be dismissed as an idle threat” given the current political environment. This possibility came up again this week in an NBC News story suggesting that the White House might see a shutdown as a way to distract Congress and the public from the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Congress Starts to Ask: How Long Should the Next CR Run? The Continuing Resolution runs until November 21, less than a month away. It is possible that a few agencies might be covered by enacted appropriations bills by that date, but most (if not all) of the federal government will need a further extension of CR funding. At the moment, the Senate would prefer to extend the CR to February or March, with Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby saying the House’s impeachment inquiry and possible Senate trial will likely “take all of the oxygen out of the room” until the process is over. House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey has stated a preference for a shorter CR, but feels a date can’t be set until closer to November 21.

“FDA Appropriations: A 360° View” Webinar Set for November 6. The Alliance is pleased to offer its members a webinar — FDA Appropriations: A 360° View — on November 6 at 1 p.m. The webinar will feature Jessica Schulken, former Senate Appropriations Committee staffer, and Steven Grossman, the Alliance’s Deputy Executive Director. We will be providing both a Hill and an advocate’s perspective on the history of FDA funding, the Hill’s view of the agency, construction of the President’s budget request, and an in-depth look at FDA’s positioning in the FY 20 funding cycle. To RSVP and receive call-in information, please e-mail Reed Diskey. If you have specific questions you would like addressed, contact Steven Grossman directly.

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