Quick Hit – June 24, 2016

An Unprecedented Week…

This week has been full of surprises for domestic and international politics; the House Democrats staging a sit-in, the Supreme Court rulings on immigration and affirmative action, the UK decision to leave the European Union…

 

What Does It Mean For Appropriations?

It means an already slow appropriations season has been slowed even further as challenging political issues force their way into already limited legislative time in both chambers.

 

The Senate

Last week, the Senate delegation from Connecticut led a 15 hour filibuster on the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The bill remains in limbo, with amendments still pending.

Next week, on Tuesday, the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee will begin its markup of the FY17 Appropriations bill. The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the bill on Thursday.

It is hoped Senate defense appropriations will proceed to the Senate floor before the July 15th summer recess.

 

The House

The House Democrats staged a historic and highly controversial sit-in on the well of the House floor Wednesday into Thursday. Lost in the hype is that a tool exists for issues that can’t seem to get out of committee but Members believe would survive a majority vote on the floor – a discharge petition to bring a vote straight to the House floor requires 218 signatures. However, a discharge petition would not have attracted the same media attention, as did the sit-in. The House majority voted to end the legislative day late Wednesday night, begin a new day to vote on the VA/MILCON Appropriations Conference Report, and then go on Fourth of July recess a day early. The VA/MILCON legislation passed without debate.

Here is the breakdown of the House VA/MILCON bill:

  • $82.5 billion discretionary spending ($2.6 billion above FY16)
  • $1.1 billion funds for resources to fight Zika virus ($1.1 billion came from the Senate bill version, the House originally passed a $622 million measure)

Democrats were extremely opposed to the measure, and embittered after the House majority passed the bill without debate in a late night session. The Zika funding aspect of the bill will prove challenging to conference with the Senate. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida labels the Zika element of the bill “a disaster.”

With partisan tensions high when the House reconvenes on July 5, it is expected that the Financial Services Appropriation will move to the House floor.

 

In summary

Chances of finished appropriations bills before Congress goes on an extended recess until Labor Day are quite low.

 

Legislative Days Until Summer Recess:

Senate: 11 Days Left

House: 9 Days Left

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