Legislative Activity

Appropriations Process on the Floor Comes to a Standstill, in Both Houses

After an unplanned public fight over a confederate flag amendment in the Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill the House appropriations process has stalled, effectively bringing appropriations efforts on the floor for both Houses of Congress to a standstill just three weeks before the August recess. The House Financial Services Appropriations Bill was expected to hit the floor this week, and would have likely been the last appropriations bill the House considered before the August recess, but Republican leadership has pulled it from consideration.

The committee appropriations process is expected to continue, with the House Appropriations Committee considering its last bill, the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, this week. The Senate has two remaining appropriations bills to markup, the Agriculture and Financial Services bills, but has not signaled when it will do so.

Heading Towards a Shutdown or a Continuing Resolution

After Congress returns from the August recess, it will only have a few weeks before government funding runs out and either causes a shutdown or forces Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR), as a budget deal or an omnibus spending bill is unlikely before the end of September. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said it “remains to be seen” if leadership will begin working towards a CR to keep the government running beyond September, but many believe that is the most likely outcome.

While Republicans continue to work under spending levels established under current law, Senate Democrats have been pushing for negotiations on a budget deal to adjust the sequester’s spending caps for months, sticking with their strategy to stop any appropriations bills from coming to the Senate floor. President Obama has issued numerous veto threats, while both the President and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have also been calling for budget deal negotiations.

The appropriations process will likely remain at a standstill and either result in a government shutdown or the passage of a short-term CR. While they continue to blame Democrats for any potential shutdown, Republicans are eager to show the American public that they can govern and are likely to push a CR through Congress at the end of September. Whether or not they will consent to budget negotiations at that point is unknown, but Democrats have shown a willingness to continue to force the issue.

This Week’s Hearings:

FY 2016 Appropriations Committee/Subcommittee Markup Hearings

  • Tuesday, July 14: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.