House and Senate Complete Action on FY2019 Spending Bills

The House and Senate voted today on an FY19 appropriations conference report that includes the seven remaining spending bills. The Senate took up H.J. Res. 31 first and passed it by a vote of 83-16. The no votes were from Sens. Booker (D-NJ), Braun (R-IN), Cotton (R-AR), Cruz (R-TX), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hawley (R-MO), Inhofe (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Markey (D-MA), Paul (R-KY), Rubio (R-FL), Sasse (R-NE), Scott (R-SC), Toomey (R-PA), and Warren (D-MA). The House followed and passed the bill by a vote of 300 to 128. Nineteen Democrats and 109 Republicans voted against the measure.

The conference report included the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-HUD FY19 spending bills. 

In order to get a final deal, conferees had to give up on including several other provisions that members were seeking, such as securing back pay for federal contractors who lost work during the 35-day partial shutdown, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, retroactively extending expired tax credits, and stopping automatic spending cuts to mandatory programs under the 2010 pay-as-you-go law. 

The bill now goes to the President for his signature. President Trump indicated earlier today that he will declare an emergency in order to allow the administration to redirect funds to fund a wall on the southwest border. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said they would support this move by the President. Not all Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) are on board with an emergency declaration as it sets a dangerous precedent and undermines the role of Congress. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican Mac Thornberry (R-TX) encouraged the President not to divert significant Department of Defense funding for border security as it would have detrimental consequences for our troops and military infrastructure. House Democrats could pass legislation to block the President’s emergency declaration. They could also sue the President and challenge his emergency declaration in court. Republicans sued then-President Barack Obama in 2014 over the Affordable Care Act. It was the first time a district-court judge affirmed the right of the House of Representatives, as an institution, to sue a sitting President. 

Bill Text

Joint Explanatory Statement

House Democrat Summary

Senate Democrat Summary

Senate Republican Summary

House and Senate Conferees to Continue Negotiations This Weekend on FY19 Homeland Security Spending

House and Senate negotiators are planning to work through the weekend to reach a border security deal that would clear the way for a final FY19 spending package. 

The conferees held a closed-door briefing on Wednesday with Customs and Border Protection officials as well as Carla Provost, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol. According to the White House, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) briefer was not allowed in to the briefing room. (

Details on how much funding and what type of construction would be allowed as barriers along the border are still being negotiated.

A disaster supplemental may be included in the final deal. Earlier this year, the House passed a $14.2B aid package for victims of hurricanes, wildfires, typhoons and other recent natural disasters. Senate Republicans introduced their own $12.8B package, but it hasn’t been considered on the Senate floor.

The conferees’ goal is to produce legislative text on Monday. They have been told to stay in town this weekend to be able to sign a conference report. Some members of the conference committee – Reps. Cuellar (D-TX), Fleischmann (R-TN), and Graves (R-GA) – are among those in a bipartisan group heading to Camp David this evening to discuss the 2019 legislative agenda with Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

The question is whether or not President Trump will sign what the conferees produce. Democratic leaders have expressed concerns about this pointing to previous reversals by the President including his most recent refusal to sign a six-week stopgap in December, which led to the 35-day partial government shutdown. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dismissed those concerns saying that the President would sign it if there is a deal and there are enough bipartisan votes for it to pass. And Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) met with the President this week. He said that the President urged him to get a deal done, and that he thinks the President would sign a final bill.

Congress must pass a final spending package or another continuing resolution by February 15 in order to avoid another shutdown. 

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.