The House of Representatives joined the Senate in a Spring break this past Wednesday with a great deal of uncertainty on how Congress will move forward on appropriations. There still is no agreement between Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) and the Freedom Caucus on a plan to move a budget resolution and that means delay for appropriations. After May 15, the budget law allows appropriations to move forward without a resolution and there is an agreed to spending level as a result of budget-spending deal from last December but that would mean those 12 appropriations bills would likely not get a yes vote from that same Freedom Caucus.
After a week of discussion and some limited action on mandatory funding cuts (including SSBG), it still looked like the House Republicans did not have the 218 Republican votes they are seeking to pass a budget resolution. The previous week the House Ways and Means Committee bundled a package of cuts that included elimination of SSBG along with some cuts to child tax credits as part of a package of mandatory spending cuts.
The cuts from the Ways and Means Committee would be bundled with other committee cuts to be placed into a separate bill, referred to as a “sidecar” to the budget resolution. Problems with that strategy has since emerged. Even with the cuts, the Freedom Caucus, made up of some of the most conservative members of the House Republican caucus, was not moving off their opposition to last year’s budget agreement. An additional problem is that the sidecar bill has not been fully developed. The Agriculture Committee is supposed to provide cuts within their jurisdiction (presumably the SNAP/Food Stamp and other nutrition programs) but they were keeping their proposal under wraps until they have a final package. Another piece of that cut package was to be developed in the Judiciary Committee. That committee was to present budget savings by passing a medical liability limit but some conservative members were arguing that limits on medical malpractice should be a state decision.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) did say he did not want to move forward with appropriations without a budget. As he left several strategies were being suggested including passing a few more popular bills like defense, or passing appropriations at lower budget cap levels but each idea seemed to get shot down by one part of the Republican caucus or another.
The Senate will not take up a budget resolution and because they have a different set of rules they won’t have to vote on overall spending allocations like the House. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says that he intends to take up all 12 appropriations bills and act on them in an effort to restore the appropriations process. If the Senate does the 12 separate bills a full floor debate would likely take up almost all of the Senates floor time from spring until they break on July 15 for the rest of the summer.
Here is the House Budget Committee’s release of their plan, JOIN THE BUDGET DEBATE AT: the April National Advocacy Summit on Monday April 18.