Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trump Administration Expected to Submit Request to Rescind Funding; House Appropriations Committee Begins Consideration of 2019 Spending Bills; Senate Appropriators Pledge to Work Together

Although Congress has moved on from the fiscal year (FY) 2018 federal budget, the administration appears to have regrets about the omnibus appropriations bill President Trump signed into law last month. According to multiple media reports and comments from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, discussions are occurring between the House leadership and the administration on possibly rescinding some of the FY 2018 funds.

No details are being provided on the programs that could be included in a rescission package or how much approved funding would be cut. White House officials are expected to send a formal rescission request to Congress in early May. Once submitted, lawmakers have 45 days to approve the administration’s proposed spending cuts. If the House and Senate do not act by that deadline, the agencies are permitted to spend all available funds.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) acknowledged recent conversations with the White House about these spending cuts but would not comment on the timing of a vote. Even if the House passes a rescission bill, the Senate is not expected to consider the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said they would oppose any attempt to rescind funds. Speaking to Fox News, McConnell said, “You can’t make an agreement one month and say, OK, we really didn’t mean it.”

Further evidence that Congress is primarily focused on FY 2019 spending came when the House Appropriations Committee announced earlier this week that the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Subcommittee will vote on its FY 2019 funding bill April 26. Full Committee consideration of the bill is scheduled for May 8.

With additional action expected soon on the remaining FY 2019 spending bills, FASEB submitted written testimony to several House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. The testimony is based on the annual FASEB federal funding recommendations and provides the subcommittees with FASEB’s requests for key scientific programs that support biological and biomedical research.

Senate appropriators, aware of the President’s threat to not sign future omnibus spending bills, said they will try to get the first of their 12 measures approved in early June. Chairman Shelby told reporters that appropriators are making a “good faith effort” and hope to have three or four bills approved by the full Senate before the summer break begins in early August. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, issued a statement pledging that Democrats will cooperate with Republicans to complete consideration of the spending bills.

The Senate Appropriations Committee chairman also said a schedule of bill consideration has been drafted and is being reviewed internally. Shelby mentioned his plans to meet with House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) soon to discuss the Senate’s plan.

Senate Appropriations Committee member Steve Daines (R-MT) said Republicans may bring a series of “mini-bus” spending bills to the floor, but acknowledged that Democratic support would be needed for that strategy to succeed.