Both chambers of Congress will be back in Washington next week and will have only a few weeks to make progress on the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills before FY 2019 ends on September 30. At the time of this writing, 10 of the 12 appropriations bills have been passed by the full House of Representatives. However, the Senate had deferred its consideration of any spending bills (even in subcommittee) until a compromise was reached to provide reprieve from budget caps set in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
On August 2, President Trump signed a two-year budget agreement that provides federal programs relief from these automatic spending cuts. The deal allows Congress to appropriate increases for defense and non-defense discretionary programs, including for research, healthcare, and the upcoming 2020 Census. However, the House bills, as currently written, total about $15 billion more in nondefense spending than the final budget cap negotiated for FY 2020, meaning the House will need to revisit some of its bills when they return September 9 and in some cases make adjustments.
The passage of the budget deal clears the way for Congress to pass FY 2020 funding bills when it returns. We expect the Senate to hit the ground running on appropriations bills in early September. However, with no appropriations bills currently introduced in the Senate and the end of the fiscal year looming on September 30, time is the most critical factor; Congress could face yet another government shutdown unless bills or a continuing resolution (CR) are passed by both chambers and signed by the President before the end of the fiscal year. We predict a CR will be passed to allow policymakers additional time to complete work on FY 2020.
COSSA has been reporting on the status of the FY 2020 House appropriations bills over the last several months. Check out our consolidated analysis of the FY 2020 bills for details.