Congressional dreams of an early departure last week rapidly dissipated when several issues emerged that slowed down a final deal. Once again there are members, particularly senators, who are hoping this will be the final week of session until the post-election lame duck session. The Senate will use a substitute bill to adopt the CR and Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has already filed for closure to move a CR past a filibuster. A vote on that could happen today.
The CR, until December 9, is agreed to but what else is included is not clear. It is assumed there will be some funding to address the emerging spread of Zika in Florida and Puerto Rico but there is still disagreement on restrictions (i.e. limitations on not allowing Planned Parenthood health clinics to receive funding). In addition, it is unclear what relief might be included in a water projects reauthorization bill as it relates to the lead drinking water in Flint and some other cities.
Another complication is Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WS) proposal to assure conservative Republican votes by committing to passing a series of bills that would bundle small combinations of the 12 appropriations, instead of an omnibus of 12 appropriations bills. Ryan has referred to these smaller packages as “minibus bills.” Democrats and even some Republicans are skeptical for various reasons. Democrats fear bills such as Labor-HHS could be bundled and taken up last after funding under the current budget caps is allocated to other areas