Legislative Activity

House Appropriations Action

Last week the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2014 Defense and Agriculture spending bills. The Defense bill will likely be the first to reach the House floor, possibly this week. Subcommittee action continues this week with the Energy and Water and Transportation-Housing bills both scheduled for markups (see This Week’s Hearings below for details).

Senate Appropriations Action

This week, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will announce the spending allocations under which the committee will consider its FY 2014 appropriations bills. Despite objections from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and her Republican counterparts on the Appropriations Committee, Chairwoman Mikulski is expected to set an overall FY 2014 discretionary spending cap of $1.058 trillion, which is $91 billion more than the $967 billion cap established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) and being utilized in the House.

Chairwoman Mikulski intends for the Appropriations Committee to complete its work on the majority of its FY 2014 spending bills by July 18. In addition to this week’s hearings, which are highlighted below, the tentative schedule for other bills includes: Energy and Water and Transportation-Housing (subcommittee markups June 25; full committee markups June 27); Labor-HHS-Education and Legislative Branch (subcommittee markups July 9; full committee markups July 11); and Commerce-Justice-Science and Homeland Security (subcommittee markups July 16; full committee markups July 18). Markups for the Defense, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, and State-Foreign Operations are not yet calendared.

Senate Financial Services Subcommittee Chairmanship

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) will serve as the chair of the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee. The position was left vacant with the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).

This Week’s FY 2014 Appropriations Markups:

  • Tuesday, June 18: Energy and Water – House subcommittee markup.
  • Tuesday, June 18: Agriculture – Senate subcommittee markup.
  • Tuesday, June 18: Military Construction-Veterans Affairs – Senate subcommittee markup.
  • Wednesday, June 19: Transportation-Housing – House subcommittee markup.
  • Thursday, June 20: Agriculture – Senate full committee markup.
  • Thursday, June 20: Military Construction-Veterans Affairs – Senate full committee markup.

Other Activity

Debt Ceiling

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office reiterated its projection that the measures taken to control national debt since the expiration of federal borrowing authority on May 19 will run their course in October or November. Additionally, Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term rating outlook from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’ and affirmed its long-term rating of AA-plus. The White House and Democrats continue to push for a “clean” debt ceiling increase to be approved before the August recess, while Republicans want the increase to be tied to further spending reductions, tax reform, and/or entitlement program reforms. Counter to the Republican “no budget, no pay” measure approved in the House earlier this year, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) are pushing for a measure to stop members’ pay if the debt ceiling is not increased and the government defaults on its financial obligations. All current indications are that another fiscal showdown is looming, although it is unclear whether the FY 2014 budget will be wrapped into the debt ceiling debate.