Negotiations Continue on FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wants to put the FY18 omnibus spending bill on the House floor next week (Thursday, March 15) assuming it can be finalized and filed the day before. Some think this is an ambitious agenda, and that it could slip a day or two especially since the House adjourned yesterday and is not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday. The current continuing resolution expires on March 23.

While appropriators typically settle the funding levels first, this year they are trying to resolve the policy disputes first. There are still some unrelated add-ons that are complicating the process. Some of the more difficult issues were kicked up to the chairmen and ranking members last week for resolution, while others are being handled at the subcommittee level. The three hardest bills to complete are Labor HHS Education, Financial Services, and Homeland Security.

The Labor HHS Education bill is at an impasse over a Planned Parenthood funding provision. While federal funding can’t be used for providing abortions, the Senate bill provides $286.5M for family planning programs and stipulates that the funding can’t be used to make changes to existing regulations on how grant money is awarded. The House bill provides no funding for family planning, and specifically prohibits funding for Planned Parenthood. Republican House appropriators think the Senate language goes too far.

Another issue appropriators have to take into consideration in their negotiations is the veto President Trump threatened if funding for the Gateway tunnel project in New York/New Jersey is included in the omnibus bill. The project is expected to cost $30B, and an agreement with the previous administration has NY and NJ paying half the cost with the federal government paying the rest. Trump may be using the veto threat to leverage funding for his other priorities (e.g. a border wall) in the omnibus.

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