The House Appropriations Subcommittee will take up a Labor-HHS appropriations bill for FY 2016 on Wednesday.  Any real debate is likely to be delayed for the full committee later in the week or month.

As of last week the House had sent six appropriations bills to the Senate:  Commerce-State-Justice (HR 2578), Energy and Water (HR 2028), Legislative Branch (HR 2250), Military Construction (HR 2029), Transportation Housing and Urban Development (HR 2577) and Defense (HR 2685).

There are twelve appropriations.  The Senate, which hasn’t adopted a bill yet, is considering starting with the Defense Department bill. As part of that process Congress reauthorizes the Defense Department each year and passes an appropriations bill to accompany that reauthorization.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) is considering taking up the defense bills as a strategy to challenge Democrats who have said they will block appropriations bills until a new budget spending cap agreement is reached.  His strategy is based on forcing Democrats to vote against defense spending.

The President has sought to increase the budget caps by providing $38 billion more for Defense and $38 billion more for discretionary spending.  The House and Senate Budget resolution would leave spending caps in place but allow Defense spending to go up by counting Defense Department increases as “emergency spending,” traditionally not counted against budget caps.   Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Minority Leader has suggested that a government shutdown after September is a possibility if they don’t reach a deal.