There appeared to be progress in appropriations discussions after the first week back.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced early in the week that the Senate would be proposing a CR that would extend funding to December 9, 2016.  That came as a rebuff to more conservative House members who had and still are pushing for a CR to March of 2017.  By the end of the week it was suggested that if the Senate could get a deal they may leave this week.

The progress on a CR seemed to come after the Senate Democrats rejected a Zika virus bill for the third time.  Democrats object to its funding level and provisions attempting to restrict any of the funding to going to Planned Parenthood health clinics.  After that vote serious discussions started and it is believed that any deal on Zika will be passed as part of the CR.  That could also be true of a package to provide assistance to Flint, MI and some other cities attempting to deal with lead in their water systems.

Meanwhile on the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) was trying to convince his members to go with a shorter CR to run into December.  As part of that effort he has suggested that when they return in December they should pass a series of bill that would bundle combinations of the 12 appropriations, instead of an omnibus of 12 appropriations bills he has referred to these smaller packages as “minibus bills.”

The Senate CR would extend current funding levels into December with a few attachments such as an extension of the TANF block grant.  It may include other similar measures—perhaps Title IV-B programs if no action is taken on the Families First Act. (see below). It is likely that when and if Congress agrees to a CR they will leave Washington until mid to late November for leadership decisions for the next 115th Congress.