LEGISLATIVE UPDATE AS OF JULY 12, 2018:
Budget & Appropriations Update
Congressional Update: July 12, 2018
Congress returned this week from its July 4th recess with a full agenda for a busy month. On Monday, President Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, former aide to President George W. Bush and onetime investigator of President Bill Clinton, to the Supreme Court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously cancelled the first 3 weeks of the Senate’s August recess, expects that action to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Kennedy will occupy much of the upper chamber’s time this summer.
The House is expected to adjourn for the traditional August recess on July 26.
Budget & Appropriations
Appropriators are expected to continue to push forward the annual spending bills over the coming weeks. To date, the Senate Appropriations Committee has marked up all 12 of the fiscal year (FY) 2019 bills in Committee, the earliest completion date since 1988. The House Appropriations Committee has marked up 11 of the 12 bills, with only Homeland Security left to do. Both bodies have passed a three-bill minibus of VA, Energy & Water, and Leg. Branch, and are expected to move forward with conferencing these bills in the near term. The Senate is also expected to take up another minibus in the coming weeks, though which bills will be included in the package is still unknown. It is the hopes of Labor-HHS Chairman Roy Blunt that his bill will be paired with the DOD bill for floor action.
The House Labor-HHS bill was marked up in Subcommittee on June 15, and after two postponements, was taken up in full Committee until July 11. Dozens of amendments were offered at the Committee markup, most of which focused on legislative approaches to facilitate reuniting immigrant children with their parents at the border.
The House bill, which passed on a party line vote, includes $38.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase of $1.25 billion over FY 2018; and $7.6 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a cut of $663 million from FY 2018. The bill contains many politically divisive provisions, including eliminating funding for Title X, cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, and labor programs, and controversial riders such as blocking funding for the ACA and Planned Parenthood. House Democrats are further displeased that despite last year’s budget agreement providing $18 billion in increases for non-defense discretionary funding in FY 2019, the Labor-HHS bill was flat funded in FY 2019.
The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee marked up their FY 2019 bill on June 26, followed by a full Committee markup of the bill on June 28. The bipartisan bill passed with only one “no” vote. The Senate bill, which had an allocation $2 billion larger than the House bill, includes $39.1 billion for the NIH, or a $2 billion increase, and $7.87 billion for the CDC, a small cut from FY 2018.