House and Senate to Continue Appropriations Bills Markups, Floor Consideration
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will continue to markup appropriations bills this week, while the House is expected to consider its FY 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill on the floor. It is unclear which appropriations bill the Senate will consider on the floor next, though the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS); Agriculture; and the Legislative Branch appropriations bills have all been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and are ready for floor consideration.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has subcommittee and full committee markups scheduled for the FY 2017 Defense Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Homeland Security Appropriations Act. The House Appropriations Committee has subcommittee markups scheduled for the FY 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, and the full committee will mark up its FY 2017 CJS Appropriations Act and FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act this week.
All of this appropriations action comes on the heels of the Senate passing its FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and THUD Appropriations bills last week, the Senate’s second and third, without too much controversy.
Meanwhile, the House just began floor consideration of appropriations bills last week due to its failure to pass a budget for FY 2017, which meant the House had to wait until May 15 before it could consider appropriations bills on the floor. This is the first time since the 1974 budget law that the House is moving forward with the appropriations process without passing a budget or a deeming resolution. While House Republican leadership wanted to pass a budget that tracked the spending caps agreed to in last year’s bipartisan budget deal, the more conservative members of the Republican caucus refused to support the $30 billion in spending above the caps established by the Budget Control Act (also known as sequestration).
Appropriations Issues Highlight: Zika Funding and Amendments on Confederate Flags and LGBT Protections
As the House and Senate continue the appropriations process, a number of issues may impact the progress Congress can make. These issues include the need to approve emergency funding to combat the Zika virus and controversial amendments offered in the House last week on confederate flags, the issue that stalled the House appropriations process last year, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) discrimination protections.
Amid recent news reports highlighting the rising number of Zika infections in the United States, the House and Senate have taken different approaches to approving emergency funding to combat the disease. The House passed a standalone measure last week that would provide $622 million in funding for Zika efforts, offsetting the funding with $352 million in unspent Ebola funding and $270 million from the Department of Health and Human Services budget. The White House issued a veto threat on the bill, calling it a “woefully inadequate” response to the threat. Meanwhile, the Senate approved a $1.1 billion amendment to an appropriations package that combined the Senate’s THUD appropriations bill and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. However, it’s unclear how Congress will proceed, given the differing approaches between using a standalone bill and an appropriations bill.
The House also voted on two controversial amendments last week that may come up again during the appropriations process: an amendment prohibiting the Confederate flag from being used at federal cemeteries and an amendment that would bar federal contractors from receiving government contracts if they discriminated against LGBT individuals. The Confederate flag amendment passed 265 to 159, with all members of Republican leadership backing the measure. The LGBT amendment caused a dramatic shouting match on the House floor, and narrowly failed as votes that began in favor of the amendment were switched before the vote was closed. It originally looked like the amendment would pass with 217 votes, however the vote was held open for about ten additional minutes and the approval vote count dropped one by one to a final tally of 212 for and 213 against. Some Republicans have said the provision would have effectively killed Republican support for the overall bill. Looking forward, the LGBT amendment may come up again, and could potentially end the appropriations process just as it is getting started.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Tuesday, May 24: The Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.
- Tuesday, May 24: The Senate Appropriations Committee Homeland Security Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.
- Tuesday, May 24: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act, the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, and the report on the Revised Interim Suballocation of Budget Allocations for FY 2017.
- Wednesday, May 25: The House Appropriations Committee Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.
- Wednesday, May 25: The House Appropriations Committee Interior and Environment Subcommittee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Act.
- Wednesday, May 25: The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing titled “Reclaiming Congressional Authority Through the Power of the Purse.”
- Thursday, May 26: The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Department of Defense Appropriations Act and the FY 2017 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.