House and Senate Charge Ahead on 2017 Spending Bills
Gridlock over budget plan doesn't stop markups
Meanwhile, Senate appropriators plan to bolt through two subcommittee markups on Wednesday and send the bills to the full committee on Thursday, as work speeds up in Congress with both houses back in session. The full Senate panel also will disclose its subcommittee allocations, known as 302(b)s, on Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky., has vowed to move forward given that the House Republican caucus remains gridlocked over a budget resolution.
House leadership has presented a plan that would stick to spending levels approved in a budget deal last year, while the conservative Freedom Caucus members are demanding at least $30 billion in spending cuts. No floor debate on the resolution is scheduled in the House in the coming week.
The week’s appropriations schedule is daunting:
- The full House Appropriations Committee will consider the fiscal 2017 Military Construction-VA appropriations bill at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The measure was the first House appropriations bill to be marked up in subcommittee on March 23, just before the House left for recess.
- House subcommittee markups of fiscal 2017 Energy-Water and Agriculture appropriations measures are also scheduled on Wednesday: Energy-Water will be at 1:30 p.m. and Agriculture at 4 p.m.
- As for the Senate, its Military Construction-VA Subcommittee will mark up its bill at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday and the Energy-Water Subcommittee at 2:30 p.m. The two measures will be taken up by the full committee at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
In the House, the notices portend a flurry of appropriations action for the chamber’s Tuesday from its spring recess — action that encourages Military Construction-VA Chairman Charlie Dent , R-Pa.
The committee also plans to consider what it calls an “interim report on the suballocation of budget allocations” for fiscal 2017 at the morning meeting, according to a committee notice.
This report will likely set discretionary spending levels for one or more appropriations subcommittees in the absence of a budget resolution. It’s unclear whether House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers , R-Ky., will lay out the discretionary spending breakdown for all 12 subcommittees at that time or just for individual subcommittees, perhaps just those going into markups next week.
According to the committee, the report will be based on the discretionary spending topline set out in last year’s two-year budget agreement and will be made public at some point next week.
Rogers has asserted spending bills must adhere to the $1.07 trillion discretionary spending cap because anything otherwise would halt progress on appropriations.
It’s unclear how the House will move forward any time soon with spending bills on the floor if the budget stalemate that vexed Republican leaders prior to the recess continues. In the absence of a budget resolution adopted by both chambers, the House and Senate often pass what’s known as a deeming resolution containing enforceable budget levels and allowing the appropriations process to go forward.
It’s also possible the House could move appropriations measures on the floor through a rule that waives procedural issues caused by considering appropriations bills without a budget resolution.
Dent expressed hope that the House could come to some kind of agreement that would allow the Military Construction-VA measure to hit the floor the week following the markup.
“I think that there’s some hope if we have a budget or we deem the number, we could take that bill to the floor the following week,” Dent said.
Last year’s appropriations cycle kicked off in each chamber with the fiscal 2016 Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water bills, two broadly popular measures, but the fiscal 2016 Agriculture spending bill was one of the very last to be marked up in each chamber last year