Legislative Activity

Senate Considering THUD and MilCon-VA, After Finally Passing Energy-Water Bill

This week, the Senate will resume consideration of the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act, after finally passing the FY 2017 Energy and Water Development (Energy-Water) Appropriations Act late last week following several failed cloture votes.

The THUD and MilCon-VA appropriations bills have been combined into a single package for Senate floor consideration, though there are some issues that could delay the package on the floor. On Tuesday, the Senate is expected to vote on $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus, which will be added as an amendment to the MilCon-VA appropriations bill. Votes on two other Zika funding packages will also be taken, though they are both expected to fail. The THUD appropriations bill also includes a trucking hours-of-service provision that has failed to garner support from either the trucking industry or safety groups. The hours-of-service issue halted the appropriations process last year, and has the potential to become a problem again this year.

House to Begin Floor Consideration of Appropriations Bills

This week, the House will begin floor consideration of its first appropriations bill this year, the House’s $81.6 billion FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act. The House is also expected to consider a funding measure to combat the Zika virus this week, but it will likely provide less funding than the Senate measure and will include funding offsets. On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee will determine the rules for floor consideration of the Zika bill and the MilCon-VA appropriations bill, including the number and type of amendments that will be allowed.

It is unclear which appropriations bill the House will turn to next. The Senate passed its Energy-Water bill last week by an overwhelming 90-8 vote, though only after several failed votes because of a controversial amendment on the Iran nuclear deal. The House Appropriations Committee adopted its own Energy-Water bill last month, and Senate passage could increase pressure for the House to consider its Energy-Water bill on the floor next, though the controversial Iran amendment that delayed the Senate bill could resurface in the House.

As we reported previously, the House was not able to consider appropriations bills on the floor until after May 15 because the Chamber failed to pass a budget this year due to disagreements within the Republican Caucus over the topline discretionary spending number. Some Republicans advocated for the $1.07 trillion limit agreed to in last year’s budget deal, while more conservative members refused to adopt a topline number that is $30 billion higher than the $1.04 billion called for by sequestration. The House Republican Leadership is still working on a budget resolution proposal that would allow votes on the $1.07 billion budget resolution and a package to offset the $30 billion difference, though it is unlikely the offsets would become law and the proposal has failed to garner enough Republican support to pass.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, May 17: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
  • Tuesday, May 17: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Act, the FY 2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act and the Revised Report on the Interim Suballocation of Budget Allocation.
  • Wednesday, May 18: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to review the VA electronic health record network (VistA), progress toward interoperability with Department of Defense electronic health record system, and plans for the future.
  • Wednesday, May 18: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act.
  • Wednesday, May 18: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
  • Thursday, May 19: The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act.