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Advocacy at a Glance

December 8, 2019

Topline: With subcommittee allocations resolved, the appropriations committees are racing to complete negotiations, with the hope of completing the process before December 20. Beyond the short time frame (2 weeks), there are multiple obstacles to reaching agreement on all items.

The 302(b) Allocations Deal: Fixes Some, But Not All, of the Problems. The House and the Senate agreed upon 302(b) subcommittee allocations before Thanksgiving, finding a resolution that did not require changes in the budget deal that passed this summer. Each subcommittee now knows how much it can spend, which will facilitate House/Senate conference agreements. Our understanding is that Members and staff are now fully engaged in finalizing the individual appropriations bills.

Setting 302(b) allocations represents important progress toward FY 20 appropriations, but falls far short of overcoming all the impediments to Congress completing FY 20 appropriations. For example, House and Senate Homeland Security appropriators now have the bottom line, but no further guidance on how much of the subcommittee allocation should go toward border wall funding and immigration programs and how much should be spent on other needs. While specific amounts have not been released, it has been widely reported that L-HHS will receive more than the Senate allocation. We have not yet seen any mention of funding levels for Ag/FDA appropriations.

Funding for All Discretionary Programs Runs Out on December 20, Two Weeks From Now. At least based on media reports, there is a split among appropriators and leadership as to whether the bulk of appropriations bills can be resolved before Christmas. There is no apparent pattern with regard to political party or house of Congress to explain who is optimistic and who is pessimistic. All we know for certain is that both the House and Senate expect to be in session until December 20. If appropriations bills haven’t passed by then, there will be another Continuing Resolution or a shutdown.

As previously predicted in the last Advocacy at a Glance, one of the impediments to a deal is the order in which completed bills will be considered and whether it is politically possible to pass some before Christmas and defer those with lingering issues to be resolved in January (see media story here).

Topline: With subcommittee allocations resolved, the appropriations committees are racing to complete negotiations, with the hope of completing the process before December 20. Beyond the short time frame (2 weeks), there are multiple obstacles to reaching agreement on all items.

The 302(b) Allocations Deal: Fixes Some, But Not All, of the Problems. The House and the Senate agreed upon 302(b) subcommittee allocations before Thanksgiving, finding a resolution that did not require changes in the budget deal that passed this summer. Each subcommittee now knows how much it can spend, which will facilitate House/Senate conference agreements. Our understanding is that Members and staff are now fully engaged in finalizing the individual appropriations bills.

Setting 302(b) allocations represents important progress toward FY 20 appropriations, but falls far short of overcoming all the impediments to Congress completing FY 20 appropriations. For example, House and Senate Homeland Security appropriators now have the bottomline, but no further guidance on how much of the subcommittee allocation should go toward border wall funding and immigration programs and how much should be spent on other needs. While specific amounts have not been released, it has been widely reported that L-HHS will receive more than the Senate allocation. We have not yet seen any mention of funding levels for Ag/FDA appropriations.

Funding for All Discretionary Programs Runs Out on December 20, Two Weeks from Now. At least based on media reports, there is a split among appropriators and leadership as to whether the bulk of appropriations bills can be resolved before Christmas. There is no apparent pattern with regard to political party or house of Congress to explain who is optimistic and who is pessimistic. All we know for certain is that both the House and Senate expect to be in session until December 20. If appropriations bills haven’t passed by then, there will be another Continuing Resolution or a shutdown.

As previously predicted in the last Advocacy at a Glance, one of the impediments to a deal is the order in which completed bills will be considered and whether it is politically possible to pass some before Christmas and defer those with lingering issues to be resolved in January (see media story here). The short version: Democrats fear a shutdown (or an extended CR) for non-defense programs if Defense and Homeland Security pass first; Republicans (and particularly the President) fear they will lose all their negotiating leverage if non-defense bills pass before DOD and Homeland Security. Allegedly, Speaker Pelosi has said that it needs to be “all 12 or nothing.” Also, allegedly, the President has said that he won’t sign any bills ahead of Homeland Security.

The Budget and Appropriations Process Is Never Simple. This week’s Analysis and Commentary explores: why appropriations conference committees cannot always “split the difference,” the status of FDA’s efforts to plan for the FY 21 budget; and the consequences of a full-year Continuing Resolution.

So Far, Appropriations Not Slowed by Impeachment. The Alliance is all about appropriations and not anything about impeachment … but it is hard to ignore that they are operating in the same time and space. In prior Analysis and Commentary columns (e.g., here), we have conveyed the strongly stated positions of appropriators and leadership that appropriations will move forward without regard to any impeachment activities. That still seems to be the case. However, given Senate floor rules, there is always the possibility that even a single Senator could hold up an appropriations deal in order to make a point about impeachment.

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