Congress on Recess as Impeachment Inquiry Roils Washington; Current Fiscal Year Appropriations Still Unresolved
With the House of Representatives launching a presidential impeachment inquiry, the final disposition of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations and other congressional business is very uncertain. The fiscal year began on October 1 with the government operating under a continuing resolution (CR), which holds agency budgets at their FY 2019 funding levels. The current CR is set to expire November 21. Members of the House and Senate are away for a fall recess and return to Washington October 15.
Just prior to the break, Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) met with the president at the White House to discuss the plan for FY 2020 appropriations. According to news reports, the president encouraged Shelby to continue moving appropriations bills through the Senate. Both Senator Shelby and Appropriations Vice Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have been encouraging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to take up bills unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, including bills to fund the National Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture.
Behind the scenes, House and Senate appropriations staff have already begun to talk about a broader bicameral agreement on funding allocations for the various appropriations subcommittees. This is a necessary step for the two chambers to reconcile their respective spending bills. Though progress is possible after members return to Washington, another CR might be required to keep the government open past the November 21 deadline.