Legislative Activity

The FY 2017 Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on April 28, and Congress has eight session days remaining before that deadline. Those in leadership on the Committees on Appropriations have expressed their desire to vote on an Omnibus during the week of April 24, after Congress returns from the Easter recess, and negotiations towards an Omnibus spending bill are ongoing. The Omnibus could be added as an amendment to the March 8 passed FY 2017 Defense funding bill that is currently at the Senate, or the House could use one of the Appropriations Committee passed bills to originate the Omnibus in that chamber and send to the Senate. If Congress is unable to complete their work by April 28, a short-term CR would be needed in order to prevent a government shutdown.

Last month, President Trump submitted a $33 billion supplemental funding proposal for the border wall and defense measures. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided the Appropriations Committees with nearly $18 billion of suggested cuts from non-defense bills to help offset that request. Details of the OMB proposal were leaked last week and have been met with great skepticism by some members on both sides of the aisle. In particular, many appropriators do not want to “reopen the book” and believe the request has come at too late of a time.

The largest potential obstacle to an Omnibus appears to be the supplemental funding for the border wall and defunding Planned Parenthood. If the supplemental is not provided, it is technically possible for some, or all, of the proposed $1.4 billion for the border wall to be included in the FY 2017 appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security.  However, that would require a shift of other priorities within the bill, and such a move may be met with opposition from Democrats.

Of note, Congress has addressed potential controversial policy provisions separate from the Appropriations process. For example, the Senate took a separate vote to rescind an Obama administration “midnight rule” from December 2016 that prohibited the states from defunding Planned Parenthood. The House voted its consent last month, and therefore the measure is expected to be signed by President Trump. Both actions may lessen the desire for a broader defunding approach in the Omnibus. Some Democrats have warned that controversial proposals would be met with Democrats’ own “poison pills,” such as demanding the President’s tax documents or blocking the implementation of President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

 This Week’s Hearings:

House Appropriations Committee

  • On Tuesday, April 4, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs.” The witnesses will be:
    • Douglas J. Besharov, Professor, University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council;
    • Dr. Demetra Smith Nightingale, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute; and
    • Zoe Baird, CEO and President, Markle Foundation.
  • On Wednesday, April 5, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Federal Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” The witnesses will be:
    • Barbara Cimaglio, Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health;
    • Bill Guy, Advocate, Parents Helping Parents;
    • Nancy Hale, President and CEO, Operation UNITE; and
    • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Senior Economist and Co-Director, Drug Policy Research Center, RAND Corporation.

Senate Appropriations Committee

  • On Tuesday, April 4, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “National Water Hazards & Vulnerabilities: Improved Forecasting for Response & Mitigation.” The witnesses will be:
    • Dr. Louis Uccellini, NOAA Assistant Administrator, Weather Services, Director, National Weather Service;
    • Dr. Antonio Busalacchi, President, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research;
    • Ms. Mary Glackin, Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships, The Weather Company, IBM; and
    • Mr. Bryan Koon, Director, Florida, Division of Emergency Management, Former President, National Emergency Managers Association.
  • On Wednesday, April 5, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Hearing on Preventing Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.” The witnesses will be:
    • Mr. Joel Szabat, Executive Director, U.S. Maritime Administration;
    • Rear Admiral James Helis, Superintendent, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York; and
    • The Honorable Calvin Scovel, III, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • On Wednesday, April 5, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has scheduled a closed hearing titled “Classified Hearing to Review Intelligence Programs & Threat Assessment.” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable Mike Pompeo, Director, Central Intelligence Agency; and
    • Admiral Michael S. Rogers, Director, National Security Agency.