Legislative Activity

Senate Republicans Hope ‘Third Time is the Charm’ on Energy-Water Bill

The Senate will bring up the FY 2017 Energy and Water Development (Energy-Water) Appropriations Act for a third cloture vote on the Senate floor this week. The previous votes both failed to reach the requisite 60 ayes, as Democrats have chosen to block cloture due to a controversial amendment that Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) intends to offer related to the Iran nuclear deal. President Barack Obama has also issued a veto threat on the Energy-Water Bill if it includes the amendment.

If the Senate fails to approve cloture on the Energy-Water Bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to move on to the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act next. Reportedly, the THUD and MilCon-VA bills may be combined into a single piece of legislation for floor consideration. Finally, the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Act is also ready for floor consideration, though the perennially controversial bill likely will not be brought up for a while.

House Budget Unlikely, Will Start Appropriations Floor Consideration After May 15

The House has all but given up on passing an FY 2017 Budget Resolution this year, after disagreements among the Republican Caucus over topline spending numbers have led to an impasse. Republican Leadership has advocated using the $1.07 trillion discretionary topline spending number established in last year’s budget deal, but more conservative Republicans such as the House Freedom Caucus are pushing for the sequestration-level topline number of $1.04 trillion. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had continued to look for a resolution that would satisfy both sides in the disagreement right up until last week’s recess, though he was unable to bring both sides together. Unless Speaker Ryan can bring the Republican Caucus together, Republicans may need Democratic support to pass appropriations bills on the floor.

Under current law, without a Budget Resolution, the House cannot consider Appropriations Bills on the floor until after May 15. However, the House Appropriations Committee, working under the expected $1.07 trillion topline number, has passed the Agriculture Appropriations Act, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act. The Defense Subcommittee will mark up the Defense Appropriations Act this week. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) has said the MilCon-VA bill will be the first one brought to the floor after May 15.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Wednesday, May 11: The House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill.