Legislative Activity

DHS Spending Bill Slated for Consideration by House

Late on Friday, January 9, House Republicans released a draft bill funding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through September 30, the end of the fiscal year. DHS is currently operating under a short-term continuing resolution passed as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (also known as the “CRomnibus”) in December 2014.  The bill provides $38.7 billion in discretionary funding for DHS components, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service, and is reportedly the version originally drafted for inclusion in the CRomnibus.  The House Appropriations Committee is not expected to mark up the measure.

The DHS spending bill could reach the House floor as early as Tuesday, January 13. The House Rules Committee will first meet to decide what amendments may be considered by the full chamber, including potential immigration proposals. If passed, the bill will then move to the Senate, where its prospects for passage remain uncertain. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson argued this week that continued reliance on short-term continuing resolutions “poses a real risk to the homeland security.”

President’s FY 2016 Budget Expected on February 2

The White House is expected to release the President’s FY 2016 budget on Monday, February 2, meeting the mandated deadline for the first time in five years. The proposal reportedly requests $534 billion for defense spending, approximately $34 billion more than the cap established under law known as “sequestration.” It remains to be seen whether Congress will meet sequestration’s strict limits, or will instead seek to delay or overturn the limit by enacting a new law.

House Formally Adopts Shift to Dynamic Scoring

On Tuesday, January 6, the House of Representatives adopted changes to its rules for the 114th Congress, including an expected shift to “dynamic scoring.” Dynamic scoring tries to predict the broader impacts of changes to the tax code, including on employment and capital stock. Democrats have long criticized the action; Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan cautioned in a blog post that a shift to dynamic scoring “could allow Congress to adopt legislation that increases Federal deficits, while masking its costs.” It remains to be seen whether the Senate might adopt a similar rule, though Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) have both expressed support for dynamic scoring.

CBO Director Appointment May Take Weeks

Republican leadership is reportedly considering candidates to replace Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf, a process that could take weeks or even months. The CBO provides Congress with nonpartisan analyses of the costs of legislation, and its Director will have some control over how dynamic scoring is implemented. Elmendorf, whose term expired on January 3, is expected to remain in the position until a successor is named. While several new candidates are under consideration, reports indicate reappointing Elmendorf has not been ruled out.