Appropriators Continue Negotiations on FY18 Omnibus

The current FY18 continuing resolution (CR) is set to expire next Friday, March 23. Appropriators had hoped to file a final FY18 omnibus appropriations bill this week in order for the House to consider the bill on Thursday, but negotiators failed to reach a final spending agreement.

Appropriators are claiming that progress is being made, but still several policy disputes remain to be settled. They started with 150 issues to be negotiated, but still need to settle several disagreements including whether health care workers should be able to opt out of performing abortions under a “conscience” objection, whether the federal government can provide grants to Planned Parenthood, environmental regulations, campaign finance law (relaxing rules that limit coordination between political parties and their candidates and rolling back the Johnson amendment), and funding for the NY/NJ Gateway project. An online sales tax measure, technical changes to fix the recent tax law, and provisions to defund sanctuary cities are not likely to be included in the final omnibus measure. The bill could include an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration excise taxes that are set to expire on March 31.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) also remains a sticking point in negotiations. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said this week that a deal for providing “Dreamers” temporary protection in exchange for funding for a border wall was meaningless because of court rulings saying that the program can’t be ended while it faces a legal challenge. The administration also pulled back the offer saying that negotiations on DACA should be kept separate from spending negotiations. The administration is seeking $1.6B in FY18 to build 74 miles of physical barriers.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) said appropriators should have everything done this weekend. To comply with the House’s “three-day rule,” Appropriators would have to file the bill by Wednesday in order to bring it to the floor for a vote by Friday.

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