Sarah Ferris, budget and appropriations reporter at Politico and David Hawkings, senior editor at CQ Roll Call, discuss the state of the appropriations bills making their way through Congress and the success of the ‘mini-bus’ approach.
Before the July 4th recess, the Senate appropriations committee sent all 12 FY19 bills to the full chamber. Now that Congress is back in session, funding the government for 2019 remains a top priority. Sarah Ferris, Budget and Appropriations Reporter at Politico said that this turn of events is “remarkable.” “The two heads of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican and Democrat, kind of entered a pact and said ‘We are going to keep all sorts of politics out of the process and we’re going to get to work on all 12 bills, and miraculously enough this actually happened. The first-term chairman Richard Shelby and Pat Leahy, the top Democrat on that committee successfully avoided everything from immigration, to abortion, to environmental riders. There were no amendments that were controversial in any of those 12 bills.” said Ferris. David Hawkings, senior editor at CQ Roll Call, doesn’t think much work will get done on these bills in the immediate future. “Over the next couple of weeks, we won’t have any headlines about appropriations. Even though the House is going to pass two more bills. One is called financial services, which is sort of a hodgepodge of several items from several agencies, including the Executive Office of the President and the Treasury Department, also the Interior and Environment bill,” said Hawkings. “Those things could draw all kinds of angry amendments. You might see a headline out of it, but I would say probably not. Really what they’re doing, I say this often… all of this preliminary work, it is not wasted, but it is hard to get excited about it when we know there’s so much drama coming in the fall.”