The House will begin to pass the first of the 12 appropriations bill this week. To speed up the process House Leadership has decided to combine 5 of the 12 FY 2020 bills into one package for debate and vote. The creation of the “mini-bus” will package the Labor-HHS-Education, Defense, Energy-Water, Legislative Branch, and State-Foreign Operations into one vehicle.

The appropriators have passed out of the full Appropriations Committee: Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Military Construction, Transportation-Housing, and Financial Services with Homeland Security waiting for full committee action. It is the goal of the House leadership to pass all 12 bills before the July 4 break. That would actually be meeting the deadlines set-up by the budget act.

The Senate, in years past, would also be acting on approximately half of the same bills by July 4, to cue them up for conference committee meetings but the Senate has not yet started. Senate leadership is waiting on the on-and-off discussions on a new two-year budget cap deal that includes the White House. Those talks have not yet resulted in an agreement with time running down.

The Congress will also have to raise the debt ceiling at some point in late summer early fall and that too is included in the discussions. The Senate is waiting on what the spending targets will be agreed to while the House has acted under their own budget targets. The Senate is likely to proceed with a strategy similar to last year which passed the Defense and Labor-Education-HHS bills as one big bill that included about 75 percent of federal appropriations. The remaining bills would likely go separate. This limited the President’s ability to shut the entire government down early this year and offered an incentive to liberal and conservative members to support bills that taken separately they may have opposed. Senate is likely to avoid any “poison pills” being added to appropriations language as was the condition in last year’s appropriations bills.