NEWS FROM WASHINGTONCongress is in sessionCongress Returns With a Herculean Agenda
Congress returns to work today after a week-long recess with fresh hope of passing several bills, including all 12 appropriations bills, legislation to raise the debt ceiling, and a budget agreement that will avoid $100 billion in automatic spending cuts to both discretionary defense and discretionary domestic programs before Congress leaves town for its month-long summer recess.
The degree to which Democrats and Republicans will be able to work together remains an open question given the potential for disagreement on a range of issues other than the fiscal ones mentioned above. These include gun control, Supreme Court nominations, the question of impeachment, and potential problems reauthorizing the Older Americans Act
So what can we expect over the next 28 full legislative days before the August recess? It is likely that Congress will pass a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill today and it will go to the president for his signature. It is also likely that Congress will find a way around obstacles to passage of the Older Americans Act
before the current law expires on September 30. What is not clear, however, is whether Congress will pass 12 appropriations bills on time, adopt legislation to raise the debt ceiling, or avoid $100 billion in cuts to discretionary defense and domestic programs.
It has been suggested that Congress may ultimately pass a two-year continuing resolution in order to keep the government funded through the 2020 election. But, as the New York Times
has pointed out, a penchant “for brinkmanship on the debt ceiling and a desire to keep strict spending limits in place, [is] prompting concern on Capitol Hill,” making bi-partisan progress on the debt ceiling and a budget agreement to avoid $100 billion in automatic cuts extremely difficult. House Set to Pass Disaster Aid after Setbacks
The House is expected to pass a $19.1 billion disaster relief package (HR 2157
) today after three Republican congressmen blocked the legislation over the Memorial Day recess. The legislation will provide recovery funding for a series of recent storms, wildfires, and hurricanes. Legislation passed in the Senate shortly before the Memorial Day recess only to be blocked three times over the recess by congressmen Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and John Rose (R-TN). Once legislation is passed in the House, the bill will go to the president for signature. (He has already said he will sign it.) The final deal includes $600 million in food stamp aid for Puerto Rico and $300 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants. House FY 2020 Appropriations Schedule this Week
The House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its fiscal (FY) 2020 appropriations bill
this evening. The Homeland Security appropriations bill is expected to drop tomorrow. The full House Appropriations Committee will meet tomorrow morning to mark up
the FY 2020 Transportation-HUD
appropriations bills. National Flood Insurance Program Extended Two Weeks through June 14
Last Thursday, the House approved a two-week extension (S.1693
) of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by voice vote, ensuring passage before the May 31 deadline. The $19.1 billion disaster aid package that the House is expected to clear this week would further extend the NFIP deadline until September 30, 2019. This would provide lawmakers additional time to work towards a long-term reauthorization of the program, which has seen 10 short-term extensions since 2017. NFIP was created under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to provide insurance coverage to property owners for damages and losses due to catastrophic flooding.