Weekend deadline for FY 20 appropriations bills
Appropriators are supposed to turn in their list of unresolved issues today and complete their FY 20 bills by this weekend in order to get them passed by the current CR deadline of December 20.
Roll Call reports that to some it’s an achievable goal:
“‘I’m more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago,’ said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee. ‘We want final negotiations to be done this weekend.'”
Others – not so sure:
“Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama confirmed the weekend goal but appeared less confident that it could be met. ‘I’m more guarded because we still have the big hurdles and we haven’t concluded those,’ he said. ‘And they will be the hardest.'”
The biggest hurdles are funding for the Trump wall and related immigration issues:
“The [HS] subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Montana Sen. Jon Tester, echoed that assessment. ‘Everything that’s controversial is on the table,’ he said, citing wall funding, detention bed capacity, and the president’s authority to transfer money from other programs to a border wall. ‘We haven’t come to a conclusion yet,’ he said.”
LHHS also has big hurdles. Senate LHHS Chairman Roy Blunt described his House counterpart Rosa Delauro as “a tough negotiator” and wasn’t totally confident they could reach today’s deadline.
The Hill reports that detention beds are one of the biggest hurdles in the HS bill to resolve:
“Democrats are insisting that the Homeland Security spending bill include drastic cuts to the number of beds ICE has available for detaining immigrants, a move that Republicans argue will lead to weaker border defense.”
Recent reports of fake schools for immigrants didn’t help negotiators:
“Anger at ICE shot up this week, particularly among Democrats, following revelations that the agency set up a fake school in Michigan in a bid to lure foreign students to violate immigration laws.”
Currently, there are 35,520 detention beds. The House FY 20 HS bill would reduce the number to 34,000 while the Senate bill raises the number to 52,000.
According to DHS, the detained population at the end of November was 44,860.
Wall Funding – is there already enough funding?
Additional funding for the southern border wall has been described as the major obstacle to finishing the FY 20 appropriations bills. Rumors are that the White House will not sign any appropriations bills if Congress doesn’t include $8.6 B in new wall funding.
However, Defense News reports that HASC Chairman Adam Smith says the Administration doesn’t need more funding for the Trump wall:
“Because the administration used statutory power to re-program Defense Department dollars from personnel, military construction and other accounts to pay for building border barriers, House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said Thursday, the border wall budget is now overflowing, and he has tried to relay that to the White House.
“‘And you managed to steal $6.1 billion out of the Pentagon budget, and you did that fair and square,’ Smith told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute. ‘They don’t like the word ‘steal,’ by the way. Declare victory, OK? You managed to get $7.5 billion for the wall, and I’m told … they can’t spend that $7.5 billion before the end of [fiscal year 2020].'”
From Politico Playbook:
[House Speaker Nancy] ” PELOSI on a shutdown: ‘I don’t think we’re headed for a shutdown. I don’t think anybody wants that. I think the president and the Republicans learned in the last shutdown that it just wasn’t — there was no upside to it, even though the president has said I’ll take pride in shutting down government. I don’t think he’s going to take pride in shutting it down again.
“‘ WE WOULD HOPE TO BE FINISHED BY THE 21ST . And we’re on a good path. If we’re not, we will just go to a continuing resolution until a couple — you know, until after Christmas. But I hope we don’t have to do that. But I don’t think anybody wants to see a shutdown.”
HAC Appropriator Tom Graves still working on budget/appropriations reforms
Even though FSGG Ranking Member Tom Graves announced yesterday he was not going to run for re-election he still plans to continue working on the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and on the issue of restoring Congressional earmarks, as Roll Call reports:
“Graves, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, solicited ideas about whether the House’s nearly decade-long ban on earmarks had been effective and whether there might be a way forward that would empower the legislative branch. Earmarks refer to lawmaker-directed spending, typically for projects in their congressional districts or states.”
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