Congressional expert David Hawkings and Sarah Ferris, budget and appropriations reporter at Politico, discuss the upcoming deadline to pass the remaining appropriations packages for fiscal year 2019.
The Senate is back in session this week after a shortened August recess. The goal for the rest of the month, is to pass major spending bills in the Senate before the House returns in September, and before the September 30 deadline. To make the process go as fast as possible, Republican and Democratic leadership have agreed to merge the two biggest spending bills. “They’re going to do a couple nominations first, and they are going right ahead to this massive Defense, Labor, HHS, Education spending bill. It’s the first time in recent memory that we’ve seen these two bills combined,” said Sarah Ferris, budget and appropriations reporter at Politico. “This is something that Democrats hope they are going to get their biggest priorities, domestic programs like Labor-HHS. Republicans say their biggest priority is to have the Defense Department not see a CR. They think this can really be the way to get both of these done at the same time.” Congressional expert David Hawkings said that this time around, there’s a focus on not getting bogged down in controversial issues. “What has been real different this year so far, is that the appropriators have persuaded the entire Senate to resist the notion of turning these spending bills into magnets for hot-button political issues. It would surprise me if that continued this summer,” said Hawkings. “Some senators are annoyed at having to come back after two weeks to rejoin this. They sort of feel like… if they’re going to be made to stay here and work, they may as well surface some of their pet issues. It will be a Herculean feat if they’re able to pull this off.”