CHN: FY17 Appropriations Crawl Along
Returning to FY17 appropriations work, the House overwhelmingly passed (371-48) a $577.9 billion defense spending bill (H.R. 1301) on March 6. Due to time constraints – the current Continuing Resolution (CR) through which the government is funded runs through April 28, and Congress has a two-week recess between now and then – this will likely be the last of the 12 stand-alone FY17 appropriations bills the House will pass. Reports are that House leaders are looking to combine the remaining spending bills in one large group, known as an omnibus spending bill. If members cannot come to agreement on detailed funding decisions, they may opt to extend the current Continuing Resolution through September, keeping most funding levels flat. They could also do some combination of these options. Any FY17 appropriations bills would need a minimum of 60 votes to pass the Senate. If the Senate does not pass the defense spending bill as a stand-alone measure, it could be grouped in with the other spending bills in the omnibus. Only one of the 12 required bills for FY17, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, has been signed into law.
Earlier reports were that the Trump Administration was preparing to ask Congress for additional funding for FY17 for defense and to begin construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that this request would be submitted in the beginning of March. However, this hasn’t yet happened. If an additional funding request still materializes, it could also be grouped with the omnibus legislation. The Pentagon already received $8 billion in additional funding in the Continuing Resolution passed last fall, while most programs received flat funding.