Quick Hit – April 3, 2019

Here We Go Again – The Road to a Continuing Resolution

What it Means

Well, it was too good to last. Most FY19 spending bills flew through the system with relative ease last year, largely owing to the existence of a budget agreement at the beginning of the process. While the border wall caused some theatrics, defense and MILCON/VA were completed and in place by the start of the fiscal year (October 1st). That smooth process will not repeat this year.

Photo credit wbur.com.

That said, the FY20 process has been moving along quickly since the FY20 President’s Budget arrived to Congress in mid-March. Although the “PresBud” came later than expected and was received with dubious support, the legislative process of converting that budget “input” into legislative “outputs” (bills) kicked into high gear immediately. As we speak, meetings continue to take place across Capitol Hill with staff members from individual and committee Congressional offices. Assisting with and orchestrating these meetings are thousands of lobbyists[1], preparing and guiding clients to the correct place in the process in order to make a case for their requested policy or funding “outputs.”

What can we expect in the coming months?

Committees have begun to announce their subcommittee and full committee markup schedules; the first opportunity for Congress to publicly declare its initial view of the President’s “input.”  Markups will begin at the end of April and run through the beginning of June across all oversight committees.

By the July 4th break, we’ll have a general sense of where the House and Senate each stand on major issues, but it is not likely the two chambers will have agreed upon a “topline” budget number by that time.  The House, the Senate and the President all have a slightly different figure they believe is required to fund the government for FY20.  Without a common topline number, bills will move through the House and Senate only to then sit and wait, and likely wait some more, while the political dynamics play out. 

What will be the key issue that grinds the legislative process to a halt during the summer?

The quick answer is, it’s too soon to know for sure. But, there are a number of candidate issues: responses to Congressional subpoenas, the release of Mueller Report details, immigration, and health care reform all have the potential to slow the process while simultaneously producing leverage.

What can you do now?

Know that your government “customer” likely has a backup plan in mind come October when they find themselves living under a Continuing Resolution (CR). Are you a part of that plan?

***Now is the time to engage with your “customer,” to discuss how and why you should fit in to their year-end plan.***

[1] There are roughly 14,000 registered federal lobbyists representing every aspect of your life that is impacted by the federal budget

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