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Capitol Correspondence - 08.18.20

What’s Going on With the Federal Budget Process?

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Many federal programs, including those supporting people with disabilities, are likely to see their funding for fiscal year 2021 (FY21) continued at 2020 levels on a short-term basis pending an agreement in Congress.

As reported by Politico Pro:

“The House has no plans to vote until the week of Sept. 14 on a funding package, leaving the lower chamber with less than a dozen days to clear legislation that wards off a government shutdown at the end of next month.

‘I expect the House to take action on a range of important issues, including ensuring the government is funded before the end of the month,’ Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in announcing the September floor schedule.

[…]

A stopgap is all but inevitable: Congress is hurtling toward a continuing resolution that would keep the government open after federal funding expires on Sept. 30 and likely through Election Day.

The House last month passed most of its fiscal 2021 appropriations bills in two packages. A $259.5 billion bundle, H.R. 7608 (116), combined the State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-FDA, Interior-Environment and Military Construction-VA measures. And a $1.3 trillion package, H.R. 7617 (116) , combined the Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Labor-HHS-Education and Transportation-HUD bills.

The Senate, meanwhile, hasn’t started its appropriations process, with Republicans and Democrats divided over pandemic aid, police reform and other issues.

‘Unless the Democrats agree — like we have the last two years — that we all vote together against extraneous things in appropriations, we’re not going to have a markup,’ Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby said last week. ‘We’re just wasting everybody’s time. So I think we’re headed toward a CR. I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable, but it’s getting closer.’

Keeping coronavirus aid separate from a CR: During an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants to handle government funding and coronavirus relief negotiations individually, rather than combine two of the biggest items on the legislative agenda with federal cash set to dry up at the end of the fiscal year.

Shelby suggested last week that such a scenario could happen, although he said it’s early to discuss the specifics of a short-term spending fix.”