“For the first time in two decades, the upper chamber has bested the House in the race to fund the government.
The Senate has taken the lead by passing a majority of the dozen bills needed to keep money flowing once fiscal 2019 begins on Oct. 1, approving seven of those spending measures before leaving for an abbreviated August recess.
But this year’s quick clip of appropriations work is no guarantee for a drama-free fall.
Longtime budget observers say they are skeptical the Senate’s productivity burst — which is likely designed to help lift GOP incumbents this fall — will amount to much without a cross-party commitment in the House, too.
The looming election also carries high stakes, which may be making GOP leaders more interested in “face-saving” after a disastrous appropriations record in fiscal 2017, said Molly Reynolds, who studies congressional issues for the Brooking Institution.
Even more remarkable than their speed, Senate leaders from both parties have managed to comply with a strict “rider-free” pact to keep policy fights out of the spending process this year.
The House, in contrast, approved nearly all of its 12 appropriations bills on a party-line vote, with Democrats complaining they were cut out of talks.
As a result, House and Senate leaders are now tasked with merging very different versions of each spending bill — a particularly daunting task when the House is in session for just 11 days before the Sept. 30 deadline.
Already, cracks have begun to show in the Senate leaders’ strategy to hit the reset button on appropriations and avoid sending Trump a massive omnibus bill this fall.
House and Senate negotiators have hit a stumbling block this year while trying to negotiate their first spending bundle, H.R. 5895 (115), which was supposed to be the easiest to reconcile. Because of policy and funding disagreements, the first public deal-making meeting has been delayed since mid-July.”
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