Congress In September: Passing Spending Bills

District of Columbia — It comes and goes every year, Democrats and Republicans bicker about where to allocate federal funds in the upcoming fiscal spending year. Some years it results in temporary spending measures to resolve political hardliners, and other years it results in a last minute vote to pass it or a subsequent government shutdown. The point is that very rarely does the process go off without a hitch. Right before the August recess, Congress passed a H.R. 3877, a spending measure that suspended the debt ceiling and increased spending limits for defense and non-defense spending measures. The United States would’ve risked defaulting on its debt as early as September had the measure failed to pass Congress. However, no appropriations have been passed through Congress, although the House of Representatives has passed almost all of them through to the Senate. Here is the status of each measure and what to expect in September….

H.R. 2740 – H.R. 2740 is a spending package that would cover four of twelve spending measures that are required to be passed by October 1st to avoid a temporary shutdown of the federal government. The agencies funded by the package include the Labor Department, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, among others. The package passed the House 226-203 and is currently sitting in the Senate’s legislative calendar.

H.R. 3055 – The other major spending package sitting in the Senate is H.R. 3055, which would cover five more of the twelve spending measures, allowing nine of the measures to be handled between this bill and H.R. 2740. Under this package, the Justice Department, EPA, VA, and others are funded. The package passed the House 227-194 and is currently sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee, with the measure expected to be advanced to the Senate floor in the near future.

H.R. 3351 – Unlike the latter, H.R. 3351 doesn’t cover as many agencies of note, but it is still an important measure for different reasons. Under this package, the Executive Office of the President, the District of Columbia, the Treasury Department, U.S. Postal Service, and others would be funded. The measure passed 224-196 and is also sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee just like H.R. 3055.

H.R. 3931 – The last government shutdown revolved around the Department of Homeland Security and President Trump’s request for a border wall, which is what H.R. 3931 will have to deal with. Introduced on July 24th, this measure is the newest of the four, is the only one not currently sitting in the Senate, will be the hardest one to obtain Congressional passage. The House Appropriations Committee is tackling this once they return from August recess, and with a Democrat controlled House, it is unlikely that it would fund the President’s border wall. This could ultimately lead to another government shutdown, as the Republican controlled Senate is likely to side with President Trump on the issue. The odds of another government shutdown are pretty high with H.R. 3931, so expect this to be in the headlines frequently as we close in on September 30th.

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