Sarah Ferris, Budget and Appropriations Reporter at Politico and David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, discuss the funding bills making their way through Congress, and how they could impact FY19 budget discussions.
When the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill goes to conference, it could hit a major snag. The Senate version of the legislation contains a pay raise for federal workforce, while the House lacks this provision. Sarah Ferris, Budget and Appropriations Reporter at Politico says that if everything moves quickly, Congress will get to it soon enough. “The Senate is taking up this pretty ambitious package, some [parts] of which have already been passed by the House– including the financial services bill, as well as an Interior and EPA funding bill… Those are the very partisan versions, the Republicans wrote those bills and passed those bills,” said Ferris. “If the Senate and the House are able to conference on those two bills then they will be addressing that issue of the pay raise.” David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, says that Congress can repeatedly become distracted from the task at hand. However, if they stay on track, they could still make significant progress. “We’re still looking at a big, if not a train wreck, then some drama in September. The fact is that the Senate appropriators have written all 12 of the bills, the House appropriators by the end of the week will have written all 12 of their bills. Maybe as many as half of them are going to be through both chambers by the time Labor Day rolls around,” said Hawkings. “That’s important, because even if there’s a big traffic jam at the end of September, all those dozens, hundreds of decisions that have been made, that are not controversial, are baked into the deal. The fact that those are done in the summer is important and can give lots of programs and agencies a reason to breathe easy.”