Federal Relations

Update from Washington, DC

After the historic vote to confirm US Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor – and add more funds to the popular “cash for clunkers” program – the Senate went into their August recess period.  The House recessed last week and both will return after Labor Day. 

To date, only four of the twelve FY2010 appropriations bills have been approved by the Senate.  The remaining measures will likely to dominate the Senate’s floor time in September even as they continue negotiations over health care reform and climate legislation.  Senate leaders appear optimistic that they could complete action on four of the eight remaining appropriations bills before the new fiscal year starts October 1st.  

Democratic leaders and appropriators are still hoping to pass all 12 appropriations bills through regular order, avoiding the need for an omnibus.  However, it appears more and more likely that they will need to approve a short-term continuing resolution.  Stay tuned… 

Throughout the August recess period, Senate and House Democratic staff and lawmakers will begin informal conference negotiations on the four spending bills the Senate has passed: Legislative Branch, Homeland Security, Energy and Water, and Agriculture.  The Senate has named conferees for those bills, but the House has not, which is why these discussions remain “informal” at this point. 

Christy Gullion, Director