Congress to Continue Focus on Appropriations

The current fiscal year ends on September 30, and Congress will need to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) in the next few weeks to continue funding the federal government.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed advancing a CR that would extend funding for the federal government until December 9, and the Senate is likely to vote on the short-term CR this week. This approach would require the “lame-duck” Congress to pass an Omnibus Appropriations bill or several “mini-buses,” which would combine a few of the regular appropriations bills in each mini-bus.

It remains to be seen how the House will address the need for a CR and to fund the federal government next year. This week, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) advocated advancing a CR into December and then passing several mini-buses to fund the government in FY 2017. However, some conservative House Republicans are advocating a six-month CR, leaving decisions on FY 2017 funding levels to the next Congress.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is historically one of the less controversial appropriations bills, and may be more likely to be taken up early on in a lame-duck session. However, most federal surface transportation funding has already been determined by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act and is not contingent on the annual appropriations process.

Senate to Vote on WRDA

The Senate is expected to vote on the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (S. 2848) on Monday evening. The bill would authorize $9 billion for 25 water development projects in 17 states across the country, including $280 million to respond to the lead-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. The House passed a narrower $5 billion WRDA bill earlier this year, without funding for the Flint crisis.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, September 13, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security will hold a hearing titled “Examining the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016.” The witnesses will be:
    • Bob Bowlsby, Commissioner, Big 12 Conference;
    • Jeffrey Seller, Producer, “Hamilton”;
    • Tod Cohen, General Counsel, Stubhub; and
    • Jeremy Liegl, Associate General Counsel, Pandora and Ticketfly.
  • On Wednesday, September 14, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing titled “Disrupter Series: Advanced Robotics.” The witnesses will be announced.
  • On Thursday, September 15, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing titled “The Department of Energy’s Role in Advancing the National, Economic, and Energy Security of the United States.” The witnesses will be announced.
  • On Thursday, September 15, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission.” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission;
    • The Honorable Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission;
    • The Honorable Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission;
    • The Honorable Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission; and
    • The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission.
  • On Thursday, September 15, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will hold a hearing titled “A Review of Recently Completed United States Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Reports.” The witness will be:
    • Major General Donald Jackson, Deputy Commanding General, Civil and Emergency Operations, United States Army Corps of Engineers.