Quick Hit – May 5, 2015

While the world watched for royal baby news, beltway insiders continued to track the FY16 Budget process. Finally, a Budget deal has been agreed — but primarily agreed by Republicans. The House passed the measure last week, largely along party lines (226-197) .

FY16 Budget Resolution?

The Senate passed the measure tonight (51-48). This is not a bi-partisan piece of legislative craftsmanship. It is a political document that loosely outlines how government functions will be funded. Using the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to circumvent the previously approved Budget Control Act (BCA) Caps on defense spending has not set well with conservative Republicans nor the majority of Democrats. Additionally, Republican leadership hopes to use the Budget Resolution as a means of justifying repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The charged nature of the debate will continue to spill over as the legislative process unfolds through the year. See what was passed as S Res 11 here!

FY16 Defense Bills

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) completed its full committee mark last week. It will go to the floor of the House the week of 10 May. See the text of HR 1735 here! As anticipated and as previously reported, the committee followed the outlines of the aforementioned Budget Resolution. The bill includes $515B for Defense and $89B for Overseas Contingency Operations. The amount in OCO above the President’s Request ($48B) will remain a sticking point throughout the remainder of the authorizations and appropriations process. Why? Because the BCA cap is current law, and the amount in OCO is not counted as “on budget.” Further, there is no such work around for non-defense domestic programs.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) will begin its subcommittee markup process the week of 10 May.

FY16 Appropriations Process

The House Appropriations Chair brought the MILCON/VA Approps bill to the floor last week; the first of 12 appropriations bills that must be passed each year. MILCON/VA went first as a test of the Republican’ s ability to pass bills based on the Budget Resolution outline. House Democrats and House conservative Republicans were able to combine forces and initially disrupt and delay what should have been swift passage. Together they laid down a marker of discontent with the BCA Cap work around. The bill eventually passed (255-163). The difficulty with this “easy” bill foreshadows future challenges as the appropriations process continues to unfold. Mincing no words, Senator Schumer (D-NJ) has declared House appropriations bills “DOA” in the Senate.

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