Congress

Shelby finalizing allocations for fiscal 2020 bills; first markup Sept. 12

Senate appropriators will find out how much they can spend

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has said for weeks that he hopes to mark up the fiscal 2020 Defense measure the first week lawmakers are back in Washington following the August recess. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Appropriations subcommittee leaders are likely to learn within the next week how much they have to spend on their fiscal 2020 bills.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday he hopes to finalize the 12 subcommittee allocations by the end of this week or early next week.

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“We’re working on it now, but they will come later in the week or the first of next week,” Shelby said.

But the allocations, known as 302(b)s, might not become public until the panel holds its first full committee markup on Sept. 12.

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Shelby declined to say which spending bills would go first. He has, however, said for weeks that he hopes to mark up the fiscal 2020 Defense measure the first week lawmakers are back in Washington following the August recess. He has also expressed hope that negotiators might pair the Defense spending bill with the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which proved successful last year and became law before the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Appropriations Committee Democrat, said separately Monday that he has confidence appropriators can get a lot of work done during the next two months, if acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney lets Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill do the negotiating.

“There’s no reason why we couldn’t get it all done by early October,” the Vermont Democrat said, adding that the biggest challenges are “having votes” and “having people like Mr. Mulvaney just stay out of the way and try to get somebody from the White House to keep the same position for more than a few hours at a time.”

There’s still not much time to mark up all 12 Senate bills in September, let alone get them signed into law before Sept. 30, which is likely to necessitate at least one temporary stopgap measure to buy additional time.

The House has passed 10 of its 12 fiscal 2020 appropriations bills, but the allocations will need to be adjusted to comply with the two-year budget caps deal that the Senate will likely clear this week. The House passed the measure last week and President Donald Trump has said he supports the package, which was hammered out largely by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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