Federal Relations

September 5, 2018

Progress as Deadline on Spending Bills Approaches?

Even as most of the national media is focused on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings as Congress returns to work this week, we could see progress on the appropriations front.  The next fiscal year, FY2019, starts October 1 and none of the 12 spending bills have been signed into law so far.

Although hurdles still remain, it appears that House and Senate negotiators are making progress on a package of three bills– made up of the Energy and Water Development, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch measures– as they get ready to formally meet as a conference committee later today.  At the same time, on a separate track, there appears to be movement on a second package of bills, which contains the Labor-Health and Human Services and Defense bills, which are the two largest spending measures.

Both chambers have agreed to their respective versions of the three-bill package and negotiators must hash out the differences.

On the other hand, while the defense bill has been passed by both houses, only the Senate has been able to move on the Labor-HHS measure.  Because the House version of the latter bill is viewed by some as being much more controversial than the Senate version with respect to policy provisions contained in it, it will not be brought to the House floor for a vote.  Instead, the House agreed yesterday to go to conference with the Senate on the two-bill package without the full House having considered the Labor-HHS bill.  In addition, negotiations between the two sides have begun on the contours of a package.

Congressional leadership hopes to get these five bills signed into law before October 1.  The current thinking is that programs funded through spending bills not adopted by the start of FY2019 would be funded on a short-term basis through a continuing resolution until the other measures can be signed into law.