Legislative Activity

Budget Negotiations Begin

Recently, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began discussions with President Barack Obama on a budget deal.  The three of them participated in a conference call to lay the foundation for negotiations, and while Majority Leader McConnell reportedly pushed to keep Democratic Leadership in Congress out of the process, the President refused to exclude them noting the need for Democratic support for any final budget deal.

Majority Leader McConnell has said he wants a two-year budget deal, which would fund the federal government through the 2016 elections and allow Congress to try using the more traditional appropriations process for FY 2017, as opposed to a single Omnibus bill.  Republicans are expected to push for an additional $38 billion in defense spending, and will likely require any increase in spending be offset by spending cuts.  Democrats will demand equal increases to defense and non-defense spending, and will likely push for revenue raises as well as spending cuts.

President Obama recently said he would not sign another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) so if Republicans, Democrats, and the White House fail to reach a budget agreement by December 11, when the current “clean” CR expires, a year-long CR covering all of FY 2016 will become more likely.

Debt Ceiling Closer than Expected

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew recently informed Congress that the debt limit will be reached November 5, earlier than previously expected, increasing pressure on Speaker Boehner to make an effort to raise the debt limit before he resigns from Congress, which is expected to happen on October 30. If Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell do not include a debt limit increase in the budget negotiations, the new House Speaker will be under pressure very early in their Speakership to raise the debt limit without threatening default, from the moderate members of the Republican conference, and with extracting spending cuts, from the more conservative Freedom Caucus members.

House to Markup Budget Reconciliation Package

The House Budget Committee will markup the budget reconciliation package this coming Friday, October 9, and the package is expected to include provisions on Obamacare as well as Planned Parenthood. Republican Leadership intend to use the reconciliation package to assuage more conservative Republican Members’ desire to defund Planned Parenthood, since the budget reconciliation package does not need to receive 60 votes to pass the Senate. However, the President will certainly veto the reconciliation package, and some Republicans will continue to push to defund Planned Parenthood during the upcoming debt limit or budget negotiation votes later this fall.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, October 7: The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing titled “National Institutes of Health: Investing in a Healthier Future.”
  • Friday, October 9: The House Budget Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Budget Resolution Reconciliation Package.