Appropriations activity on Capitol Hill this week

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Time is running out for 2018 budget appropriations, and federal agencies are starting to feel the pressure. While the offices wait to learn how they can use the money given to them, Congress is dealing with some of its own issues. Some of the biggest roadblocks to passing appropriations are controversial riders attached to the bill.

“The one that has thrown people for a surprise is the defunding of Planned Parenthood which is included in the bill. This is something that Democrats weren’t really expecting since the Trump administration has so much leeway when it comes to writing regulations and stripping funding out from those kinds of providers… without Congress’s help,” said Sarah Ferris, budget and appropriations reporter at Politico. “There’s also anti-abortion riders and some anti-Obamacare riders in there, and then there’s the persistent issues of the border wall, as well as some of the other myriad issues that Congress has punted all year.”

Another possible wrench in the gears is that Thad Cochran (R-MS), head of the Senate appropriations committee, is resigning at the end of the month. This sudden retirement has caused some uncertainty surrounding negotiations, but according to Jack Fitzpatrick, congressional reporter at Bloomberg Government, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

“I think the fact that they waited until April 1 rather than doing this right ahead of the March 23 deadline, at least pushes off any talk about staff changes… a lot of people looked to Senator Shelby as the next person,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is not necessarily a huge shake‑up.”