Congress returns work today after a one-week recess. They face a full agenda that includes figuring out how to respond to the situation in Crimea and deciding if a deal can be found to permanently address the “doc fix,” or if another short-term patch is needed (likely). Lawmakers have also scheduled a number of appropriations hearings. They will start with a trickle today but turn into a flood Tuesday and Wednesday. The FY 2015 appropriations season is officially underway!
In related news, the House Republicans are likely to propose a budget resolution in coming weeks that seeks deeper or accelerated cuts to entitlement programs and tighter constraints on discretionary spending as they aim to build support for the fiscal blueprint within the GOP. The budget resolution typically sets the stage for appropriations work, but the December budget deal already established spending caps for FY 2015 making the budget resolution moot. The plan taking shape in the House will almost certainly will stick with the higher FY 2015 discretionary cap of $1.014 trillion in the December budget deal, but will identify future cuts that could help to eliminate the deficit by the end of the decade. Budget experts say the most likely targets are reducing discretionary spending after 2015 and making deeper or faster reductions in entitlement and assistance programs such as Medicare and food stamps.
The House Budget Committee is likely to mark up their budget resolution during the first week of April, with the measure going to the House floor the following week.