As the Congressional August recess approaches in just a few weeks, it has become all but certain that a continuing resolution (CR) will be enacted to push work on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills to after the November midterm elections. The House and Senate are likely to be consumed with the President’s proposals for supplemental funding to address the migrant child crisis and wildfires out west during the scant remaining summer workdays, leaving little time to advance any of the FY 2015 spending measures before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. Despite Senate leadership’s promise to dedicate two weeks in July for debate on the appropriations bills, the bills are not included on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “to do list” for the balance of the month. While neither chamber has acknowledged a CR publicly, we are likely to see one passed that will place the appropriations bills on hold until after the elections to allow enough time for Members to head home for a final stretch of campaigning.
Additionally, in spite of efforts by House and Senate appropriations chairs to move the annual spending bills individually through “regular order,” something that hasn’t happened in recent memory, it is becoming increasingly likely that the FY 2015 endgame strategy will include a catch-all omnibus bill during the lame duck session this fall. As you will recall, a number of appropriations bills, including the measures that fund the National Science Foundation, Census Bureau, National Institute of Justice and other agencies important to the COSSA community, were making their way through the process when progress was halted in the Senate over an impasse on how to address amendments. While little additional progress is expected the rest of the summer, discussions may continue behind the scenes to start preparing for an omnibus after the elections.