FY17 Appropriations Update

The FY17 continuing resolution (CR) expires next Friday, April 28. Congress returns next week from a two-week recess and has just a few days to either pass another CR or a full-year omnibus for the 11 remaining FY17 appropriations bills. Negotiations between the House and Senate and Democrats and Republicans have occurred during the recess, but a final agreement hasn’t been reached yet. It isn’t clear which chamber will move the funding bill first. Some House appropriators prefer the Senate acting first. In the meantime, there may be a need for another one- or two-week stopgap CR to fund the government until they can get an omnibus passed. Today the Office of Management and Budget sent shutdown guidance to federal agencies.

On March 16, President Trump requested an additional $30B in FY17 funds for defense ($24.9B for the base budget and $5.1B in Overseas Contingency Operations) and $3B for border security of which $1.4B was for the southwest border wall. The final omnibus bill could include $15B in OCO funding for defense, but Democrats are pushing for a comparable increase in nondefense war-related funds. While the latest negotiation offer did not include the $1.4B for the border wall because of Democrats’ (and some Republicans’) opposition to the project, Sean Spicer said this week that border wall funding is a priority for the administration.

In addition to the overall funding levels and funding for the border wall, some other potential sticking points for the FY17 omnibus include:

  • The West Virginia congressional delegation wants to see a provision that would ensure the continued health coverage for retired coal miners and their spouses.
  • Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney opposes the appropriation of funds for cost sharing subsidies for health insurers to lower out-of-pocket costs for individuals who buy silver plans through a health care exchange.
  • Mulvaney has also been urging Republicans to include a provision blocking federal grants for any city that does not enforce federal immigration law (“sanctuary cities”).

The House convenes on Tuesday making it difficult for them to abide by their three-day rule in which they make the text of the bill public three days before bringing the legislation to the House floor. While they can forgo this rule for the omnibus, it is likely that a short-term CR will be necessary to avoid a shutdown. And there is always the possibility of Congress punting on all FY17 bills and just passing a year-long CR.

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