Legislative Activity

Appropriations Path Forward Unclear

Congress will return this week for a “lame duck” session without a clear path forward for Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations. Several possibilities are under discussion, including extending the current Continuing Resolution (CR); an Omnibus; a series of “minibus” bills; or a combination thereof.  A consensus on a plan is not expected this week, but Appropriations committee staff has been working over the recess to negotiate and iron out differences with subcommittee bills.

The results of the election are expected to greatly impact the final outcome. The current CR expires on December 9, but with Republicans maintaining the Majority in both chambers and the election of Donald Trump, a longer-term “clean” CR into March or April has become more likely.  This approach is easier politically, and will allow Republicans more control over spending levels and policy riders.  However, many Members of the Appropriations committee have voiced their preference for an omnibus or a series of “minibus” bills.  It is uncertain whether Democrats would be supportive of the minibus approach, as some believe that it would provide an opportunity for political gamesmanship.

Congress must also address a November 10 supplemental funding request from President Obama for $5.8 billion in additional war funding for troops in Afghanistan and in the fight against the Islamic State, along with $5.8 billion in additional funding to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development for other activities related to those efforts. The money would be attributed to the Overseas Contingency Operations, which does not count towards discretionary budget caps.  Members of the Appropriations committee have said that they will carefully review the request.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, November 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development will hold a hearing titled “The Future of Nuclear Power.” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable John Deutch Chair, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chair, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board;
    • Dr. Matthew McKinzie, Nuclear Program Director and Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council; and
    • Dr. Alan S. Icenhour, Associate Laboratory Director, Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • On Wednesday, November 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Development will hold a hearing titled “The Automated and Self-Driving Vehicle Revolution: What Is the Role of Government?” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable Mark Rosekind, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration;
    • The Honorable Deborah Hersman, President and CEO, National Safety Council;
    • The Honorable Paul Brubaker, President and CEO, The Alliance for Transportation Innovation; and
    • Dr. Nidhi Kalra, Co-Director, RAND Center for Decision Making Under Uncertainty