Senate Democrats Continue to Push for a Budget Deal
In the coming weeks, Senate Democrats will implement a strategy intended to force Republicans into a budget deal. Senate Democratic leadership does not want to rely on President Obama’s vetoes of appropriations bills to force Republicans into negotiations, and will likely prevent any appropriations bills that retain the sequester’s spending limits from reaching the Senate floor. Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said Democrats intend to be at the table during any budget deal negotiations between President Obama and Senate and House Republicans, noting Senate Democrats “are doing everything to force this issue.” Additionally, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the plan is to force Republicans to make a deal now, rather than wait until the end of the fiscal year after the President vetoes appropriations measures. He noted that “as long as the Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate and don’t have them, they’ll need Democratic cooperation.”
While the House has been moving appropriations measures at a quick pace, and the Senate has been making progress on their Appropriations Committee markups, the appropriations process could slow down in the coming weeks as Senate Republicans try to bring the Defense Appropriations Bill to the floor (as of the time of writing this report, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had not yet scheduled floor time for the Defense Appropriations Bill). Democrats are expected to block the measure, as it increases defense spending without increasing non-defense discretionary spending. If Democrats are successful, it could effectively stop further Senate appropriations efforts on the floor, though the Senate Appropriations Committee will likely continue to pass appropriations bills out of committee, laying the groundwork for an omnibus bill later in the year.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Wednesday, June 17: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled “CBO’s Long Term Fiscal Outlook for the Nation.”
- Wednesday, June 17: The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled “Why Congress Must Balance the Budget.”
FY 2016 Appropriations Committee/Subcommittee Markup Hearings
- Tuesday, June 16: The Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
- Tuesday, June 16: The Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.
- Tuesday, June 16: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.
- Wednesday, June 17: The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill.
- Wednesday, June 17: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill.