House panel to mark up 2019 budget

House panel to mark up 2019 budget
© Greg Nash

The House Budget Committee will move this week to mark up a budget for the 2019 fiscal year, the panel's chairman announced Monday, despite some expectations it would refrain from doing so this year.

Budget Committee Chairman Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackBudget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Senate chairman urges move to two-year budgetary process On The Money: Senate passes first 2019 spending bill | Trump hits Harley-Davidson in tariffs fight | Mnuchin rips report of investment restrictions | Justices side with American Express in antitrust case MORE (R-Ark.) said the panel would mark up the budget on Wednesday and Thursday.

The oft-ignored budget and spending process laid out in the 1974 budget law envisions a budget passed in April, allowing appropriators to then break down spending levels for 12 spending bills.

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This year, Congress only passed the 2018 spending bills in March, after passing several short-term funding bills to keep the government open. Appropriators got to work on the 2019 spending bills without a budget.

A bipartisan agreement reached ahead of the $1.3 trillion omnibus vote in March laid out spending levels for 2018 and 2019, removing a significant purpose for the budget document.

In the House, the first three 2019 spending bills have already passed, while the Senate is expected to take up its first three bills this week.

There has been little indication that the Senate Budget Committee is planning its own budget markup. Its chairman, Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziBudget chairs press appropriators on veterans spending Forcing faith-based agencies out of the system is a disservice to women Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (R-Wyo.), recently suggested that the committee should be done away with altogether.

One aspect of the budget that Congress has continued to find useful is a budgetary process called reconciliation, which allows the Senate to avert a filibuster for certain bills.

The GOP used the process, which was linked to the 2018 budget, in order to pass its signature tax law in December without Democratic votes.

Monday's announcement raises questions as to whether such reconciliation instructions will be included in the upcoming bill, and what congressional Republicans might hope to pass with the parliamentary workaround.

Some Republicans have floated the possibility of using the process to extend and fix the 2017 tax law. Others have suggested that the GOP once again try to repeal ObamaCare through the process, but repeated failures have tempered the appetite among leadership for such a move.

Womack has said that he finds the prospects for another go at a health-care overhaul unlikely.