Leo Shane III, deputy editor of Military Times, and David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, discuss the congressional issues keeping a FY19 funding bill from advancing, and the first day on the job for new VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
As of right now, there are two roadblocks to passing the one of the mini-buses making its way through Congress. One is determining how to pay for expanding some Department of Veterans Affairs health programs, and the other is the August recess. Leo Shane III, deputy editor of Military Times, says that the snag originated in the White House. “The White House is saying ‘Hey look, there’s a $1.6 billion discrepancy, you’ve gotta find ways to pay for it within the existing spending caps,’” Shane said. “Democrats on Capitol Hill say ‘Look, it’s veterans’ programs. We want to put this money in, we don’t want to cut $1.6 billion out in order to pay for this.’ Until they can settle that, the appropriations process is sort of stalled.” David Hawkings, senior editor of CQ Roll Call, says that because the House won’t be in session again until Labor Day, a lot of work must be done in a short amount of time. “There are only 11 days between Labor Day and the start of fiscal 19… and then only 8 days after that when they’re both supposed to be in session before the election. Time is tight,” Hawkings said.