Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Benjamin Krinsky
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Congress Passes Stop-Gap Funding through December 20; Spending Allocation Negotiations Continue

Hope glimmers this week that Congress might soon finish the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget. On Tuesday, the House passed a second continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 231-192 that would keep the government open until December 20, setting up a possible end-of-year deadline to resolve appropriations. The Senate was expected to take up the measure quickly and send to the President for his signature.

Meanwhile, congressional and White House leadership continued negotiations. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met to hash out an agreement on the 12 appropriations subcommittee spending allocations.

Rep. Lowey expressed hope that both chambers might be within a few days of a deal, though Sen. Shelby was less optimistic, telling the press that the process continues to be “frustrating.” He went on to say about the negotiations “we haven’t had a breakthrough yet. We’re talking.” The two parties remain at odds over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the ongoing impeachment inquiry complicates any negotiations between Capitol Hill and the White House.

Other congressional leaders noted that if a deal is reached, appropriators could quickly finish the FY 2020 budget. Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) told Bloomberg Government that he and House Labor-H Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) could finish their bill “within a week” of receiving the top-line allocations.

Sen. Blunt also indicated that once a deal is reached, the two largest spending measures, the Labor-H and Defense bills, would likely be grouped into a larger appropriations package. He said a plan needs to be in place to ensure that the other FY 2020 bills are also passed in a timely fashion and not subjected to an open-ended CR.

FASEB sent an official letter to congressional leadership last week encouraging them to finish the FY 2020 budget. The letter highlights the importance of finishing the budget in a timely fashion and emphasizes the need to provide a robust investment in the National Science Foundation.