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Congress continues work on spending bills without budget resolution
Kirill Abbakumov   on Monday, July 31, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

As Congressional August recess approaches, the House Appropriations Committee continues its work on the 12 annual appropriations bills for FY 2017. To date, the Committee has passed 7 bills and anticipates approving the final 5 bills before the recess. Combined, these 12 bills will direct government funding for the next fiscal year. Currently, neither the House nor Senate have passed a FY 2018 budget resolution which sets funding amounts for all federal agencies and programs, allowing the appropriations committee to move ahead of the normal budget process.

In the House, budget committee leadership continues working on their FY 2018 resolution with negotiations ongoing between moderate and conservative members. House Republicans hope to use the FY 2018 budget to lay the groundwork for tax reform and some cuts to mandatory spending levels.

Reports indicate the House budget resolution, which has yet to be released, will also include reduced levels of non-defense discretionary spending while increasing the amount of defense discretionary spending. This increase in defense spending would be above the funding caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25), requiring a new bipartisan budget agreement to fund these programs. Such an agreement could be difficult to reach, as Democrats would be unlikely to accept significant reductions in nondefense spending in exchange for higher defense caps. Despite this, House appropriators are pushing forward with their bills, even though if a new spending agreement is reached, it could require them to rewrite certain bills to meet the new spending levels.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is moving at a slower pace, and will likely mark up many of the spending bills after the August recess. Similar to the House, any bills passed by the Senate committee may need to be rewritten if a new budget agreement is reached.