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Legislative Affairs

June 16, 2023

Former President Trump Arraigned; FY24 Appropriations Underway

Work Underway on FY24 Appropriations but House and Senate Differences Widen

On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump was officially arraigned in Miami, Florida on 37 counts for his role in concealing classified documents after leaving the White House, charges to which he has pled not guilty. It is the first ever instance of a former president being charged with a federal crime. Trump’s supporters rallied outside the courthouse, but inside the DC beltway, Republicans have begun breaking their silence and openly criticizing him. Republican presidential primary hopefuls, Senator Tim Scott (SC) and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, carefully cast doubt on the politicization of the judicial process while acknowledging the seriousness of the purported crimes. Other candidates, Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson were more direct in their criticisms. However, House Republicans focused their criticism on the US Department of Justice which is likely to get only more heated as the House takes up work on the budget for the Department of Justice and related matters.

Here’s what else you may have missed this week:

After coming to a debt ceiling agreement, Congress may be hurtling towards a different kind of government shutdown. Appropriations season is under way in the House and Senate, and each body is starting off the process with entirely different benchmarks for federal spending for FY24 with a gap of more than $100bn. House appropriators, led by House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) and with the full blessing of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), are writing spending bills at FY2022 levels, more consistent with the House-passed Limit, Save, Grow Act and not the more recently enacted debt ceiling compromise legislation. Meanwhile, Senate appropriators, led by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) are writing spending bills at the budget caps laid out in the debt-limit deal.

This sets up an inevitable collision course for September 30 at which time the government could once again be facing a government shutdown or a continuing resolution to get them through the end of the year. Further, under the debt deal, if any appropriations bill fails to pass by January 1, an automatic 1% budget cut goes into effect across the board.

Work also began this week on the annual National Defense Authorization Act which will see full committee action next week in both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) continues to block military promotions in the Senate, bringing the total to more than 250 awaiting confirmations. This unprecedented holdup of unanimous approval of military promotions is in response to the Pentagon’s abortion policy which ensures access to otherwise non-covered reproductive health care. This week, Tuberville rejected a proposal by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) that would exchange a vote on reversal of the policy for an end to the holdup. Tuberville is demanding that either the Pentagon end its policy or that it be formally codified into law. Senate Republicans are in a bind, wanting to avoid the political dilemma of antagonizing the military while also trying to end federal protections of abortion procedures. This protest has been ongoing for months and has shown no evidence of ending anytime soon.

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