Congress to Consider Another FY2020 CR Next Week

The House and Senate are expected to consider a continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government through December 20 next week as the current CR expires next Thursday (November 21). The White House has indicated that the President will sign the stopgap measure once it is passed by the Congress, thereby avoiding a pre-Thanksgiving shutdown.

Top appropriators from the House and Senate met this week in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office to discuss a deal to avoid a shutdown. Their goal is to reach an agreement by next week on spending allocations for all 12 FY20 spending bills. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attended the meeting Thursday, reprising his role as the administration’s chief liaison with Congress in spending negotiations. This is a positive sign that a deal is near as Mnuchin enjoys more cordial relations with Democratic leaders than acting White House Chief of Staff  and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said she expects that they will get their work done by December 20. 

Negotiations are stalled over how to allocate the $632B in nondefense spending. Senate Republicans approved allocations that gave the Department of Homeland Security an 8% increase over FY19, while the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill only received a 1% increase. The White House may be receptive to a deal to lower the Homeland Security allocation, and may be willing to consider scaling back their $5B request for border wall construction. But Democrats would have to abandon their effort to curb the President’s power to transfer $3.6B in military construction funding to wall construction. 

Other legislation is being teed up now to ride on an end-of-year spending bill including a surprise medical billing bill and a short-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Senate Passes First FY20 Appropriations Minibus

The Senate passed H.R. 3055, an appropriations minibus that includes the FY20 Commerce, Justice, Science; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Interior, Environment; and Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development spending bills. The bill passed by a vote of 84 to 9. Nine Republicans voted against the measure – Blackburn (R-TN), Braun (R-IN), Cruz (R-TX), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Sasse (R-NE), Scott (R-FL), and Toomey (R-PA). Not voting were Sens. Bennet (D-CO), Booker (D-NJ), Harris (D-CA), Isakson (R-GA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Sanders (I-VT), and Warren (D-MA).

Prior to the roll call votes today, the following amendments to H.R. 3055 were adopted:

  • Cortez Masto amendment 961 to require a report relating to the challenges that food distribution programs face in reaching underserved populations 
  • Jones amendment 1067 to provide funding for the relending program to resolve ownership and succession on farmland
  • Tester amendment #953 to provide for the availability of funds for Agricultural Research Service research facilities to provide public access
  • Smith amendment #1023 to amend provisions relating to the rental assistance program of the Rural Housing Service
  • Hirono amendment #1037 to require a study on the economic and environmental impacts of importing orchids in growing media
  • Brown amendment #1088 to provide appropriations for centers of excellence at 1890 Institutions, with an offset, as modified
  • Baldwin amendment #1099 to increase the appropriation for the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, with an offset
  • Whitehouse amendment #1121 to set aside funding for the ocean agriculture working group
  • Thune amendment #1133 to provide funding for the new beginning for Tribal students program, with an offset
  • Jones amendment #1143 to increase the appropriation for rural decentralized water systems
  • Smith amendment #1149 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to prioritize maintenance and staff needs relating to assistance provided by the Rural Housing Service
  • Rosen amendment #1161 to increase the appropriation for the distance learning and telemedicine program, with an offset
  • McSally amendment #1163 to provide funding for the emergency and transitional pet shelter and housing assistance grant program, with an offset
  • Reed amendment #1217 to provide funding for States impacted by Eastern equine encephalitis, with an offset
  • Stabenow amendment #1223 to provide funding for the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, with an offset
  • Cornyn amendment #1224 to provide funding for pilot projects to address food insecurity, with an offset
  • Warner amendment #951 to require the Attorney General to report to Congress on, and establish a deadline for, the implementation of the Ashanti Alert Act of 2018
  • Capito amendment #1077 to make $10,000,000 available for the SelectUSA program
  • Cantwell amendment #1094 to require the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration submit to Congress a report on existing supercomputing capacity and needs of the Administration
  • Toomey amendment #1129 to require that the Secretary of Commerce use amounts appropriated or otherwise made available for the Bureau of Industry and Security for operations and administration to publish and submit to Congress a report on the findings of the investigation into the effect on national security of imports of automobiles and automotive parts
  • Durbin amendment #1146 to require the Drug Enforcement Administration to continue to establish and utilize data collection and sharing agreements in order to properly estimate rates of overdose deaths and overall public health impact related to certain controlled substances, for the purpose of determining diversion and establishing annual opioid production quotas
  • Gardner amendment #1150 to increase funding for the COPS Office Anti-Methamphetamine Task Forces grant program
  • McSally amendment #1234 to require the Attorney General to submit a report on the enforcement of animal welfare laws
  • Sinema amendment #1025 to require a Bureau of Indian Affairs report analyzing the facilities investments required to improve direct service and tribally operated detention and public safety facilities in Indian country
  • Ernst amendment #1079 to prohibit bogus bonus payments to contractors
  • Ernst amendment #1081 to require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to submit to Congress a report on projects that are over budget and behind schedule
  • Cornyn amendment #1151 to increase funding for the construction of high priority water and wastewater facilities on the United States-Mexico Border, with an offset
  • Cardin amendment #1159 to provide for a report on certain programs of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Rosen amendment #1160 to set aside funds for certain Lake Tahoe restoration activities
  • Thune amendment #1162 to require a study of law enforcement staffing needs of Indian Tribes
  • Peters amendment #1182 to increase money appropriated for Geographic Programs, with an offset
  • Cornyn amendment #1193 to make available funds for the Smithsonian Latino Center
  • Menendez amendment #1199 to set aside funds for the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program
  • Blunt amendment #1211 to set aside funds for the 400 Years of African-American History Commission
  • McSally amendment #1215 to require a report on the status of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative
  • Collins amendment #1220 to make available funds for the Women’s History Initiative
  • Schumer amendment #1227 to provide for a Government Accountability Office study on outdoor recreation
  • Hassan amendment #956 to require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to provide Congress with recommendations and associated costs for future research on rental payment insurance
  • Collins amendment #1002 to make a technical correction
  • Shaheen amendment #1005 to express the sense of Congress [relating to emergency medical equipment]
  • Kaine amendment #1010 to ensure funding for the FAA remote tower pilot program
  • Cortez Masto amendment #1061 to require a report on engagement with local interests relating to intelligent transportation systems technologies and smart cities solutions
  • Cortez Masto amendment #1062 to prohibit the use of funds to terminate the ITS program advisory committee
  • Heinrich amendment #1114 to improve the bill [relating to HUD VASH]
  • Shaheen amendment #1130 to provide a sense of Congress relating to preserving manufactured home communities
  • Hoeven amendment #1214 to provide for a veterans pilot training competitive grant program
  • Portman amendment #1235 to provide additional funding for the family unification program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Senate then turned its attention to H.R. 2740, the legislative vehicle for an appropriations minibus with the texts of Defense, Labor HHS Education, State Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water FY20 spending bills. They failed to invoke cloture on the measure by a vote of 51 to 41. Sens. Jones (D-AL) and Peters (D-MI) voted for cloture while Sen. Paul (R-KY) voted against it. Democrats voted against cloture saying that they want an agreement on spending allocations that resolves the border wall funding issue dispute first.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said they want to get all 12 spending bills passed by the end of this calendar year. 

The current continuing resolution (CR) funds the federal government through November 21. Some Senate Republicans have floated the idea of another CR funding the government through early next year. A CR through next February could increase the odds of a year-long CR since it would extend funding almost halfway through the fiscal year in a presidential election year. On the other hand, Senate Democrats are concerned that the President will veto a CR and shutdown the government in November to create a diversion from the House impeachment inquiry. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that he spoke with McConnell last week, and that the two agreed that any short-term funding measure shouldn’t extend past December 31. 

House Majority Leader Hoyer Letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell re: FY20 Appropriations Negotiations