Conferees Begin Negotiations on FY19 Homeland Spending

House and Senate conferees for the FY19 Homeland Security appropriations conference met this week to begin their negotiations. Congress has two weeks left to pass a spending bill to avoid another partial shutdown. Senate conferees include Sens. Shelby (R-AL), Moore Capito (R-WV), Hoeven (R-ND), Blunt (R-MO), Leahy (D-VT), Durbin (D-IL), and Tester (D-MT). House conferees include: Reps. Lowey (D-NY), Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Price (D-NC), Lee (D-CA), Cuellar (D-TX), Aguilar (D-CA), Granger (R-TX), Fleischmann (R-TN), Graves (R-GA), and Palazzo (R-MS).

The conference committee is tasked with deciding a way forward on Homeland Security funding. Both sides expressed optimism about reaching a compromise, though there has been little budging in positions so far.

House Democrats released a list of their proposals for border security that they intend to advocate for in the conference committee. Their proposal indicated that they are willing to spend more on border security but that they don’t plan to use emergency funding to get around the budget caps for FY19. The Democrat proposal also made no mention of funding for new physical barriers or a wall. It also restricts where approved funding for barriers can be built. 

On the other side of the negotiating table, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), in his opening remarks on Wednesday, advocated for an approach that includes technology, infrastructure, personnel, and physical barriers. Shelby said that “Smart technology alone does not actually stop anyone from crossing into the U.S. illegally.”

There is still some discussion about making the deal bigger than just funding for border security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he would have no concerns about conferees expanding the scope of the discussion if they need to get an agreement. The expanded scope could include the debt ceiling and FY20 and FY21 budget caps. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley (R-IA) wants to attach a tax extenders package renewing 26 expired tax breaks to any final spending deal.Outside of the conference negotiation room, President Trump was tweeting that if the final agreement did not include funding for a wall or physical barrier that “they are [w]asting their time!” The President also said that there is a good chance that he will declare a national emergency at the southern border in order to use Department of Defense dollars for a wall. He may announce this emergency declaration during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. 

Partial Federal Government Shutdown Possible Next Week

The current continuing resolution (CR) funding seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills expires at midnight next Friday (December 21). If Congress and the White House cannot reach agreement before then, nine cabinet departments and several dozen smaller federal agencies will shutdown.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met with the President and Vice President earlier this week that was expected to be a private meeting negotiating the final spending bills. Instead, the President invited the press in to the Oval Office to cover the meeting. During that meeting the President said that he would be proud to shut down the government if Congress did not provide the funding he requested for the border wall.

There a few options Congress can consider to avoid a shutdown:

  1. Pass a CR funding the seven bills through December 26
  2. Pass a CR funding the seven bills through January 3 (the first day of the new Congress when Democrats will control the House)
  3. Pass a CR funding the seven bills through early 2019 (January-March)
  4. Pass a CR funding the seven bills for the rest of FY2019
  5. Pass a “minibus” funding six bills and a year-long CR for the DHS bill
  6. Pass a “minibus” funding all seven bills if agreement can be reached on how much funding should be appropriated for a border wall

The House does not return until Wednesday evening next week leaving only two days to pass something and prevent a partial shutdown of the federal government.

2018 Midterm Election Analysis

Only one more day to the midterm elections and knowing who will be in control of the House and Senate in the 116thCongress. Most experts believe Democrats will win control of the House while Republicans will retain control of the Senate (and perhaps pick up a seat or two). Regardless of the outcome, Congress will return the week of November 12 and have a number of issues they will have to address during the lame duck session.

Below I’ve provided some information and analysis on what we can expect tomorrow, during the lame duck session, and in the next Congress.

2018 Mid-Term Elections

The 115thCongress is comprised of 235 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House, and 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 2 Independents in the Senate. There are 7 vacant seats in the House (5 were held by Republicans and 2 were held by Democrats). Most political experts are predicting Democrats will win 30 or more Republican-held seats in the House to win the majority (they need to win 23).

The AP is reporting that these are the races to watch (sorted by poll closing time):

7 pm ET

Kentucky-06   Barr (R) vs McGrath (D)

Virginia-07    Brat (R) vs Spanberger (D)

7:30 pm ET

NC-09              Harris (R) vs McReady (D)

Ohio-12          Balderson (R) vs O’Connor (D)

8:00 pm ET

Florida-27      Salazar (R) vs Shalala (D)

NJ-2                 Grossman (R) vs Van Drew (D)

NJ-3                 MacArthur (R) vs Kim (D)

NJ-11               Webber (R) vs Sherrill (D)

PA-01              Fitzpatrick (R) vs Wallace (D)

9:00 pm ET

Kansas-02      Watkins (R) vs Davis (D)

Minn-03         Paulsen (R) vs Phillips (D)

NM-02             Herrell (R) vs Torres Small (D)

NY-19              Faso (R) vs Delgado (D)

NY-22              Tenney (R) vs Brindisi (D)

10:00 pm ET

Iowa-04          King (R) vs Scholten (D)

11:00 pm ET

California-10Denham (R) vs Harder (D)

California-48Rohrbacher (R) vs Rouda (D)

WA-03             Herrera Beutler (R) vs Long (D)

While historical trends show the party of the president losing seats in the House during the midterm elections, this doesn’t necessarily hold true in the Senate. And turnout tomorrow will play a huge role. Right now we’re seeing record rates of early voting. Some experts predict Republicans in the Senate will pick up a seat or two.

Even though Republicans are expected to lose the majority in the House, the House Freedom Caucus is predicting that it will add a few new members to its roster. They expect to increase their roster of 35 members to 37-40 members. If Republicans lose seats in the midterms, but the Freedom Caucus increases its membership, it could have more influence in the House Republican Conference in the 116th Congress.

We may not know the results to all races tomorrow as there may be some races that are too close to call and may require a recount or some races may require a run-off.

In addition to changes in the House and Senate, the Executive Branch typically sees some changes/turnover after the midterm elections. A number of staff are expected to leave and join the President’s 2020 re-election campaign. And there are plenty of rumors circulating about members of the President’s cabinet that will exit after the midterm elections (Zinke, Sessions, Mattis, Ross).

Lame Duck Session

Congress returns the week of November 12 for one week of session prior to adjourning for the Thanksgiving week recess. They are currently scheduled to return the week of November 26 for three weeks before adjourning for the holidays. The House and Senate’s target adjournment dates are December 13 and December 14, respectively.

Leadership Elections

After the elections, newly elected members of Congress come to DC for orientation and leadership elections. Republicans in the House plan to hold their leadership elections on November 15, while Democrats said they would not hold their leadership elections before November 28.

House Republicans

Since House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) is not running for reelection, House Republicans will need to select either a Speaker (if they retain the majority) or Minority Leader (if they lose the majority) for the 116thCongress. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the frontrunner for Speaker, but he could face several challengers including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus.  Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry (R-NC) is expected to challenge Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) for majority whip, the number 3 post. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is running for House Republican Conference Chair. If Republicans are in the minority, the most likely scenario is McCarthy as Minority Leader and Scalise as Minority Whip.

House Democrats

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made it clear to her caucus that she is seeking the Speakership if Democrats win control of the House. However, a few Democratic candidates have pledged to not vote for Pelosi for Speaker and the Congressional Black Caucus is saying that one of their members should be Speaker or Majority Leader. Election as Speaker of the House requires support from 218 Members of the House. Democrats will have to figure out how they can get the votes needed to elect a speaker in the 116thCongress. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC) have also indicated interest in retaining leadership positions in the next Congress. Clyburn doesn’t intend to challenge Pelosi or Hoyer for their positions. If Democrats fail to win the majority in the House, expect to see several challengers emerge in the leadership elections.

Senate Republicans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to continue in his leadership position, but other positions will change due to conference-imposed term limits (3 full two-year terms, except Majority/Minority Leader). Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) is term-limited and will step down. While Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is expected to replace him, Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) may consider a run for the position or other leadership positions.

Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats do not have term limits. Their leadership is expected to remain the same in the next Congress. However, if Democrats lose more seats than anticipated, the caucus could challenge the existing leadership.

Lame Duck Agenda

There are a number of issues Congress must address in the four weeks they are scheduled to be in session after the midterm elections – FY19 appropriations bills, farm bill, tax extenders, National Flood Insurance Program, Violence Against Women Act, and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

The results of the midterm elections will have a significant impact on how the lame duck agenda plays out. If Democrats take over the House, Republicans could try to push through their agenda before they lose the majority. But they need 60 votes in the Senate and that will require support from Democrats in the Senate. It isn’t clear if Democrats would want to “clear the decks” before the new Congress or if they would want to postpone consideration of some legislation until they are in power (again, if they win the majority in the House).

Remaining FY19 Appropriations Bills

Congress has passed and the President has signed into law five of the 12 annual spending bills (Defense, Energy & Water, Labor HHS Education, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs). The remaining seven FY19 appropriations bills (Agriculture, Commerce Justice Science, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior Environment, State Foreign Operations, and Transportation HUD) are funded by a continuing resolution (CR) through December 7.

President Trump and Congressional Republicans have been gearing up for a fight over funding for a border wall. The President has raised the possibility of a government shutdown if he does not get the funding he has requested for the wall. The Senate Homeland appropriations bill only has $1.6B for the wall compared to the House bill which includes $5B (the President’s FY19 requested amount). Democrats may also cause a shutdown if the spending bills are loaded up with conservative Republican priorities before they lose the majority. Or Democrats could force passage of another continuing resolution to carry funding into the new Congress. If Democrats fail to win the majority in the House, they could try to slow down the spending bills. But they would be in a politically weakened position, so negotiations on a spending deal could be faster under this scenario. There have been no serious discussions between Congress and the Administration during the recess on the remaining spending bills.

Congress may also consider a supplemental disaster aid spending package even though FEMA has indicated it has enough funding to cover those impacted by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence.

Other Lame Duck Priorities

The Senate will take up the Coast Guard reauthorization bill when it returns. The National Flood Insurance Program expires on November 30, and the Violence Against Women Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act both expire on December 7. All of these bills need to be reauthorized or extended. The 2018 Farm Bill is currently in conference and will be a priority during the lame duck session. The bill is being held up by a dispute over where the agriculture subsidies will go, but conferees are optimistic that they will be able to pass a full reauthorization before the end of this Congress. Congress may also consider a tax extenders and technical corrections package during the lame duck session. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will continue to push to confirm as many nominees as possible. Already on deck is a cloture vote on a nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Other possible items for consideration include criminal justice reform and retirement reform legislation (Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act or the Family Savings Act).

Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 established the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. November 30 is the deadline for the select committee to present their recommendations. They are on track to release a bill during the next two weeks. Markup is scheduled for the week of November 13.

The bill is likely to be limited to a provision that would move Congress from an annual to a biennial budget resolution. However, the bill could become broader if amendments are added during the markup or if the co-chairs agree to technical changes before the bill is officially introduced. Potential amendments include changing the fiscal year to calendar year, eliminating the need for Congress to raise the debt limit, encouraging the packaging of the 12 annual spending bills, disallowing the use of filibuster-proof budget reconciliation procedures in the Senate for deficit-increasing legislation, restoring PAYGO rules in the House, and requiring the Appropriations committees to adopt a full set of committee allocations before subcommittees can advance their bills.

FY2020 Budget and Appropriations

In an October cabinet meeting, President Trump ordered his cabinet secretaries to cut 5% of their agencies’ budgets in FY2020. With just a few weeks left in the FY2020 budget planning process, the Pentagon has been advised by the Office of Management and Budget that the defense topline for FY2020 will be $700B, not the $733B they had originally been told to expect. Up until now, DOD has been preparing its budget assuming a $733B topline. DOD Comptroller David Norquist is reportedly continuing to develop two parallel budget documents to demonstrate to Defense Secretary Mattis the cuts they will have to make and the impacts those cuts will have.

FY2020 Budget Control Act Limits and Sequestration

The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 was signed into law on August 2, 2011 and imposes annual statutory discretionary spending limits for defense and nondefense spending through FY2021. Since it was signed into law, Congress has modified the spending limits through the following bills: American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. None of these bills have changed the discretionary caps imposed by the BCA for FY2020 and FY2021. The statement that the “sequester is returning in FY2020,” therefore, means that the discretionary spending limits will again be the level prescribed by the BCA unless Congress modifies them by passing legislation. If the caps are not lifted and Congress passes FY2020 spending bills that don’t comply with the FY2020 caps, then across-the-board sequestration cuts will automatically kick in. Adherence to the budget caps will obviously mean less funding for numerous federal programs and tough decisions for Congress and the executive agencies as well as the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

For FY2019, defense spending is $647B and nondefense $597B. For FY2020, defense spending under the BCA is capped at $576B and nondefense is capped at $542B.

Debt Ceiling

The debt ceiling has been lifted until March 1, 2019. If Congress does not raise the debt limit or suspend the ceiling before March 1, 2019 the Treasury Department will be forced to use extraordinary measures to prevent a default by the U.S. government. Extraordinary measures can give Congress several additional months to work out a debt ceiling agreement. The debt ceiling could be part of a broader negotiation on an FY2020/2021 budget agreement lifting BCA discretionary spending caps.


If Republicans retain control of the House we can expect to see a continuation of their current priorities. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee just released a joint statement with the White House that they would push for the President’s proposed 10% middle class tax cut next year. If Democrats take over the House, they will focus on their “A Better Deal” priorities. They also want to pursue ethics and campaign finance reform, an infrastructure package, legislation to reduce the price of prescription drugs, gun safety measures, a legislative solution to protect participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and preserving the Affordable Care Act. They will also pursue a wide-ranging oversight agenda (the administration, climate change, intelligence agencies).

Should Republicans retain control of the Senate, judicial confirmations will continue to be one of the top priorities of Majority Leader McConnell in the 116th Congress as he tries to confirm as many judges as possible before the 2020 presidential election. They may also have some cabinet member nominations to consider in the new Congress.

Finally, the administration will want to see action on their recently negotiated trade agreements. President Trump is expected to sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in November on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting – right at the end of Mexican President Pena Nieto’s term. That will not leave enough time for the current Congress to consider implementing legislation.

House Continues Marking Up FY19 Appropriations Bills

The House Appropriations Committee marked up two of its 12 annual spending bills in subcommittee (Interior and Transportation-HUD) this week and three in full committee (Agriculture, CJS, and Energy & Water). The committee has now reported out five of their FY19 appropriations bills.


House FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $23.27B Agriculture spending bill this week and reported it out of full committee by a vote of 31 to 20. The bill is $14M above the FY18 enacted level, but when including both discretionary and mandatory funding it is $922M below FY18.

Before passage, the committee approved (29-20) a contentious amendment to ease the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of e-cigarettes and premium cigars. The amendment requires the FDA to issue final tobacco product standards no later than 36 months from enactment. The panel rejected by voice vote an amendment to continue a ban on funding for the USDA to carry out inspections of horses to be slaughtered for meat. The committee also rejected an amendment from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to strike a provision in the bill that would give USDA regulatory oversight of the emerging technology of growing meat-like products from animal cells. DeLauro argued that they should wait for more information to determine whether USDA or FDA is the better agency to regulate it. And the committee rejected an amendment by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) to increase funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The Committee did adopt the following amendments:

  • Aderholt –The amendment makes technical and noncontroversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Lee – The amendment increases the Healthy Food Financing Initiative by $1 million. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Cole/Rep. Bishop– The amendment adds bill language to modernize the February 2007 predicate date for certain tobacco products. The amendment was adopted on a vote of 29-20.
  • Young– The amendment adds bill language to ensure that disclosure requirements related to genetically engineered salmon and finfish be made in accordance with the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Simpson/Rep. Pingree– The amendment adds bill language preventing the USDA from disallowing potatoes as part of the school breakfast program. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Newhouse/Rep. Bishop– The amendment adds bill language to protect SNAP retailers from certain invasive disclosure requirements. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Harris– The amendment adds report language to require an FDA report on adverse health events linked to attorney or lead generators advertisements, and to collaborate with the FTC to address patient safety concerns. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Newhouse– The amendment adds report language directing the Secretary of Agriculture to work with other federal agencies to establish a comprehensive online system for agriculture employers to complete the H-2A applications process. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

It’s unclear when the bill will go to the House floor for consideration.

House FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill Text

House FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill Summary

House FY19 Agriculture Appropriations Bill Report Language

House FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its $62.5B CJS spending bill this week and reported it out of full committee by a vote of 32 to 19. The bill is $2.9B above the FY18 enacted level, and funds the Departments of Commerce and Justice, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the decennial census, and other related programs.

During debate, disagreements emerged over the Trump administration’s immigration policies, gun control provisions and the need to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election.

The committee adopted the following amendments during the markup:

  • Culberson – The manager’s amendment makes technical and noncontroversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Valadao – The amendment prohibits funding for the Commerce Department to implement or administer new rules on certain California dam hydroelectric projects. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Joyce – The amendment prohibits funding to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • McCollum – The amendment changes Justice Department funding designations for Native Americans. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Ruppersberger – The amendment prohibits funds to be used in contravention of the ZTE suspension order. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Ruppersberger – The amendment targets $2 million to halt illegal cell phone use in prisons. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Harris ­– The amendment urges the Drug Enforcement Administration to expeditiously process medical marijuana research applications. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

House FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill Text

House FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill Summary

House FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill Report Language

House FY19 Energy & Water Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee marked up its FY19 spending bill this week and reported it out of full committee by a vote of 29 to 20 after adopting a managers amendment. The $44.7B bill is $1.5B above the FY18 enacted level and $8.17B above the President’s FY19 budget request. In addition to providing funding for various Department of Education programs, the bill provides $15.3B for national nuclear weapons activities and $7.28B for the Army Corps of Engineers.

House FY19 Energy & Water Appropriations Bill Text

House FY19 Energy & Water Appropriations Bill Summary

House FY19 Energy & Water Appropriations Bill Report Language

House FY19 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

The House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee met and marked up its $35.252B FY19 spending bill this week and approved it by voice vote. The bill’s funding level is equal to its FY18 enacted level.

The bill includes $3.9B for wildland firefighting and prevention programs, $500M for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (funds for local governments to help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their counties), $7.958B for the EPA ($100M below FY18), $5.9B for the Indian Health Service ($370M above FY18), $3.1B for the Bureaus of Indian Affairs and Indian Education ($40M above FY18), $229M for the Office of Surface Mining, $1.4B for the Bureau of Land Management ($55M above FY18), $3.25B for the National Park Service ($53M above FY18), $6.1B for the U.S. Forest Service, $1.6B for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ($11M below FY18), $1.2B for the U.S. Geological Survey ($19M above FY18), $1B for the Smithsonian Institution ($12M above FY18), $155M for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities ($2M above FY18), $1.8M for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission salaries, $360M for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and $12M for the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board ($1M above FY18).

The bill also includes several policy riders that repeal the Waters of the United States regulation, prohibits the regulation of lead content in ammunition and fishing tackle, relieves livestock operations from EPA permitting requirements, exempts livestock producers from EPA greenhouse gas regulations, directives to federal agencies to establish policies that reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass, prohibit the EPA from making changes to certain agriculture exemptions under the Clean Water Act,

House FY19 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Text

House FY19 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Summary

House FY19 Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

The House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee approved its $71.8B FY19 spending bill by voice vote on Wednesday. The bill is $1.5B over the FY18 enacted level and $23.8B above the President’s FY18 budget request. The bill includes $27.8B for the Department of Transportation ($542M above FY18) and $43.6B for the Department of Housing and Urban Development ($941M above FY18).

While there has been discussion of an infrastructure bill being considered this year, subcommittee chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) said that they don’t need to wait to do a separate infrastructure bill and that this funding bill is an infrastructure bill. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) disagreed and said that he still plans to introduce an infrastructure bill this year, possibly before the August recess.

The full appropriations committee is likely to mark up the bill next week.

House FY19 Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Text

House FY19 Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Summary


The Senate Appropriations Committee is still holding hearings on the FY19 budgets submitted by the federal agencies, but they did announce their preliminary schedule for marking up their FY19 spending bills. The schedule is tentative and subject to change. The committee did not announce specific dates, but instead weeks during which each spending bill will be taken up. See chart below for the schedule. The committee is expected to adopt a full slate of 302(b) allocations at its first full committee markup. The allocations have been given to the subcommittee chairs so they can begin writing their FY19 spending bills.

While Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) expects the first FY19 spending bills will be on the Senate floor during the second week of June, there are only 13 weeks left when the Senate will be in session before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. The Senate floor calendar is also crowded with judicial and executive branch nominations that are proceeding at a slow pace. Congress has to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (July 31), the FAA and Airport and Airway Trust Fund (Sept 30), the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (Sept 30), E-Verify (Sept 30), and the Farm Bill (Sept 30). Republican senators are concerned that there is not enough time to pass all 12 annual spending bills.

While Congress routinely misses the October 1 deadline and usually catches up with an omnibus spending package several months into the new fiscal year, President Trump has vowed that he will never sign another omnibus bill. Sixteen Republican senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requesting that he start bundling the 12 spending bills into minibuses. The group also called for extending Senate work hours to Mondays and Fridays and forgoing the August recess. Senate Appropriations Committee ranking democrat Patrick Leahy (D-VT) responded that there is no need to cancel the August recess to finish spending work.

Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture Subcommittee: May 9

Full Committee: May 16

Subcommittee: May 22

Full Committee: May 24

Commerce Justice Science Subcommittee: May 9

Full Committee: May 17

Week of June 11-15
Defense   Week of June 25-29
Energy & Water Subcommittee: May 7

Full Committee: May 16

Subcommittee: May 22

Full Committee: May 24

Financial Services   Week of June 18-22
Homeland Security   Week of June 18-22
Interior Environment Subcommittee: May 15

Full Committee: May 22

Week of June 11-15
Labor HHS Education   Week of June 25-29
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 26

Full Committee: May 8

Week of June 11-15
Military Construction VA Subcommittee: April 26

Full Committee: May 8

Week of June 4-8
State Foreign Operations   Week of June 18-22
Transportation HUD Subcommittee: May 16 Week of June 4-8


House Continues Markups of FY19 Appropriations Bills

The House will markup its FY2019 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch bills in full committee and the Energy and Water bill in subcommittee next week. The House Republican strategy for considering all of the FY2019 spending bills may be to move the less-controversial bills to the floor first. They may also “pre-conference” with the Senate on a few measures in order to expedite passage through both chambers before the August recess. The Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill is expected to be the first spending bill on the floor. The Defense spending bill might also be in the first batch of bills.

Subcommittee House Action Senate Action
Agriculture Subcommittee: May 9  
Commerce Justice Science Subcommittee: May 9  
Energy & Water Subcommittee: May 7  
Financial Services    
Homeland Security    
Interior Environment    
Labor HHS Education    
Legislative Branch Subcommittee: April 26

Full Committee: May 8

Military Construction VA Subcommittee: April 26

Full Committee: May 8

State Foreign Operations    
Transportation HUD    


FY18 Continuing Resolution Set to Expire Next Friday

The House Appropriations Committee introduced another FY18 continuing resolution (CR) this week that would fund most of the federal government through January 19, 2018. The current CR expires on December 22. This new CR also includes a full-year funding bill for the Department of Defense, $2.1B for the Veterans Choice program, and a fix for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), extending funding for the program for five years and extending funding for community health centers for two years. The full year defense bill includes the additional funds for missile defense that were requested by the Trump administration. The bill does not include emergency aid for hurricane and fire states and territories. The House plans to vote on the measure after they have completed action on a tax reform conference bill.

House and Senate Republicans admit that they do not have the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate. Democrats are reluctant to fund the military for the full year before reaching an agreement with Republicans on nondefense spending. The budget caps for FY18 are $549B for defense and $516B for nondefense. A few weeks ago, Republicans offered to increase the defense limit by $54B and nondefense by $37B. The same increases would be allowed for FY19 as well. Democrats rejected the offer, demanding equivalent increases in defense and nondefense spending.

The Senate may strip out the full-year defense spending bill as well as the CHIP provision because of the way it was financed. They may also add emergency funding for disaster relief for hurricane and wildfire victims. The House is expected to release a third disaster aid package today. Their package is expected to be significantly larger than the $44B the administration requested on November 17.

House FY18 Continuing Resolution

Administration’s November 17 Emergency Funding Request

Senate Confirmation Hearings and Votes

The Senate held confirmation hearings this week for Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) for Secretary of Interior, Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce, Scott Pruitt for Administrator of the EPA, Rep. Tom Price (R-SC) for Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) for Secretary of Energy, Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of Treasury, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations, and Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said that he hoped that seven Cabinet nominees would be confirmed by the Senate on Friday, comparable to the number confirmed the first day of the Obama administration. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 26 to 1 to recommend the Senate confirm retired Marine Corps General James Mattis to be the next Secretary of Defense. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was the only Senator to vote against the nomination of Mattis stating that civilian control of the military is fundamental. The full Senate is expected to confirm Mattis tomorrow. Mattis still needs to be officially nominated by President-Elect Trump after he is sworn in and signs the legislation providing the waiver for Mattis to serve as Defense Secretary. Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly is also expected to be confirmed by the full Senate for Secretary of Homeland Security as is Transportation Secretary-designee Elaine Chao.

The following hearings and nomination votes are scheduled for next week:

January 24, 2017

Vote on the Nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to be Secretary of HUD

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

10:00 AM

538 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Vote on the Nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be US Attorney General

Judiciary Committee

10:00 AM

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

*Senate Democrats may use a rule to delay the vote a week.


Hearing on the Nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be Secretary of HHS

Finance Committee

10:00 AM

215 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Hearing on the Nomination of Rep. Rick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of OMB

Budget Committee

10:30 AM

608 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Hearing on the Nomination of Linda McMahon to be Administrator of the SBA

Small Business Committee

10:30 AM

428A Russell Senate Office Building


Hearing on the Nomination of Rep. Rick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of OMB

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

2:30 PM

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Finally, fast food executive Andy Puzder, President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, is scheduled to face questioning from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on February 2.

FY17 Budget Resolution Update

The Senate approved an FY17 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) by a vote of 51 to 48, with all Democrats and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voting against the measure. The House also passed the measure by a vote of 227 to 198 (nine Republicans voted no). The budget resolution includes reconciliation instructions (Title II) that will allow Congress to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The reconciliation instructions require two House committees (Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means) and two Senate committees (Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) to submit changes in law to reduce the deficit by not less than $1B for FY17-FY26 to their respective Budget Committees by January 27, 2017. The reconciliation process allows the Senate to approve legislation by a simple majority vote, instead of the 60-vote threshold normally required under Senate rules.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) said that a replacement health care bill would come at the same time as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. President-Elect Trump told reporters this week that a plan to replace Obamacare would come as soon as his nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary gets confirmed by the Senate. Rep. Tom Price’s (R-GA) confirmation may not come until mid-February. Therefore, repeal and replacement of the health care law may not occur until later in February or March.


115th Congress Senate Committee Rosters

Senate Democrats announced their 115th committee rosters this week. The number of Democrats on several Senate committees increased in the new Congress to reflect the lower Republican majority in the entire Senate. Republicans are expected to announce their committee rosters in January. The updated Senate Democratic committee rosters can be found at:

President-Elect Trump’s First 100 Days Agenda

On January 20, 2017 Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. During the campaign, Trump mentioned the following issues as his priorities for his first 100 days in office:

Pass a 10-year $1 trillion infrastructure plan

  • Bill would be revenue neutral leveraging public-private partnerships and private investments through tax incentives
  • Revenue neutral – tax breaks for investors who would be willing to lend the money to state and local governments would be offset by new tax revenue paid by the workers and companies undertaking these infrastructure projects
  • Applies only to revenue-producing infrastructure projects (e.g. airports, toll roads)

Nominate a “Scalia-like” judge for the Supreme Court

  • Diane S. Sykes
  • Bill Pryor
  • David Stras
  • Joan Larsen
  • Raymond Kethledge
  • Don Willett
  • Thomas Lee
  • Steven Colloton
  • Allison Eid
  • Raymond Gruender
  • Thomas Hardiman
  • Keith Blackwell
  • Charles Canady
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Mike Lee
  • Edward Mansfield
  • Federico Moreno
  • Margaret Ryan
  • Amul Thapar
  • Timothy Tymkovich
  • Robert Young

Repeal the Affordable Care Act/Obama care

  • Replace it with health savings accounts and interstate insurance marketing (the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines)
  • Lets states manage Medicaid funds
  • Cut “red tape” at the FDA to speed approval of over 4,000 drugs

Propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress

Pass the “Restore National Security Act”

  • Work with Congress to fully repeal the defense sequester and submit a new budget to rebuild and expand the military
  • Provide Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice
  • Protect vital infrastructure from cyber-attack
  • Establish new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to the S. support the U.S. people and its values

Cancel Obama executive orders on climate, energy, immigration, overtime, and retirement saving

Renegotiate trade deals like NAFTA (or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205) and withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Instruct his Secretary of Treasury to label China as a currency manipulator

Deport criminal immigrants living in the country illegally

  • Cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back

Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities

Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Pass the “End Illegal Immigration Act”

  • Fully-funds the construction of a wall on U.S. southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall
  • Establish a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations
  • Reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first

Institute a federal hiring freeze (except for military, public safety, public health) and change civil service laws to ease the firing of disloyal workers

Agency review reports

  • Thoroughly review every federal agency

Roll back regulations

  • Department heads review regulations and identify regulations that are wasteful and unnecessary
  • Institute a requirement that for every new regulation, two have to be eliminated

Hold Cabinet orientation and briefings

Fill top 100 Senate confirmed positions

Pass the “End The Off-shoring Act”

  • Impose tariffs on companies that move offshore

Impose the following bans

  • 5-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service
  • Lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government
  • A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections

Direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately

Lift the restrictions on the production of shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal

Lift the roadblocks on energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to allow it to move forward

Cancel payments to U.N. climate change programs and redirect funds for water and environmental infrastructure

Pass the “Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act”

  • Massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy.
  • A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut.
  • The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3
  • Tax forms will be greatly simplified
  • Business rate will be lowered from 35% to 15%
  • Trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10% rate.

Pass the “School Choice And Education Opportunity Act”

  • Redirects education dollars to give parents choice to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice
  • Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities.
  • Expands vocational and technical education
  • Makes 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

Pass the “Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act”

  • Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes
  • Incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services
  • Creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

Pass the “Restoring Community Safety Act”

  • Creates a Task Force On Violent Crime
  • Increases funding for programs that train and assist local police
  • Increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.