Road Ahead: House to consider stopgap measure to fund government, Senate plays catch-up

Appropriations could be a focal point this week

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer touted his chamber passing 10 of its annual spending bills, but final House-Senate products are nowhere in sight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Senate rushes to move fiscal 2020 spending bills, the House will consider a continuing resolution to keep the government running before the Oct. 1 fiscal year deadline hits.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the chamber would consider a stopgap measure to fund the federal government this week.

“The House, Mr. Speaker, will consider a clean continuing resolution to fund the government past September 30,” Hoyer said at the House Colloquy on Sep. 12.

The Maryland Democrat touted the fact that the House passed 10 spending bills through to the Senate, but lamented that the Republican-controlled chamber has not made any ground in passing appropriations bills, forcing the House to take up the continuing resolution.

“While the House did its work and sent 10 appropriations bills to the Senate, funding 96 percent of the government — the first time that’s been done in over three decades — I’m disappointed that the Senate failed to pass a single appropriation bill,” Hoyer said. “Not one. Not only that, they haven’t filed any until just the other day when we got back from the Summer break.”

Appropriators in the Senate are scheduled to mull over draft fiscal 2020 Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and Financial Services bills at the subcommittee level on Tuesday. Lawmakers chose to delay the discussion of border wall funding, leaving the Military Construction-VA spending bill off this week’s schedule. Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman of Arkansas said last week he wants to include $3.6 billion for military base projects funded in past years but now being deferred by President Donald Trump’s emergency order to redirect funds for wall construction at the Southern border.

Although there is no money specifically set aside for the wall, backfilling the transferred fund is seen by Democrats as implied acceptance of more money for that endeavor, though it is not apparent where the money would originate from.

It is very unlikely any spending bills will reach the Senate floor this week. The draft $48.9 billion Energy-Water bill advanced 31-0 in committee, but it’s not clear whether other bills would be able to garner the needed 60 votes to overcome procedural obstacles. The $695 billion Defense bill was approved by committee 16-15 on a party-line vote and is unlikely to sail through a Senate floor vote.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing on presidential obstruction of justice and abuse of power, which could rankle Trump and yield some angry tweets.

The Senate will consider nominations, including that of John Rakolta Jr. to be U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Robert Destro to be assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor, and Brent James McIntosh to be an undersecretary of the Treasury.

Jennifer Shutt and Lex Samuels contributed to this report.

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