Senate panel advances three spending bills

Senate panel advances three spending bills
© Greg Nash

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced three spending bills for fiscal 2019 as it moves ahead with a process that has been largely stilted in recent years.

The panel approved $54.4 billion for state and foreign operations, $23.7 billion for financial services and $55.2 billion for Homeland Security.

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The measures will advance to the full Senate, which is expected to approve three other spending bills later on Thursday.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyForeign aid for conservation is a benefit to US consumers Rand Paul delivers Putin letter from Trump Senators privately met foreign allies to reassure them of NATO support MORE (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate returns to work on toughest 'minibus' yet GOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms Hillicon Valley: 'QAnon' conspiracy theory jumps to primetime | Senate Intel broadens look into social media manipulation | Senate rejects push for more election security funds | Reddit reveals hack MORE (D-Vt.) have now marked up 10 of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2019, setting them on the path to complete an appropriations process closer to regular order than has been seen in recent years. In fiscal 2018, the panel finished approving all 12 bills well after the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and none passed on the Senate floor until March, where they were combined into an omnibus bill.

One departure from the regular process, however, is the lack of a formal Senate budget resolution, which has not been released or brought up in Senate Budget Committee. A bipartisan agreement earlier in the year set out spending caps for 2019, which has in large part supplanted the role of the budget resolution.

The three bills that passed committee on Thursday largely ignored President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand urges opposition to Kavanaugh: Fight for abortion rights 'is now or never' Trump claims tariffs on foreign nations will rescue US steel industry: report Bannon announces pro-Trump movie, operation team ahead of midterms: report MORE’s budget request and increased funding for congressional priorities.

The homeland security bill increased spending on immigration and border protection and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as providing $1.6 billion for pedestrian fencing along the U.S-Mexico border.

“We have a very strong bill that funds critical Homeland Security priorities and meets our national security needs, providing the department and its nearly 250,000 employees with the resources they need to carry out a broad set of missions around the world,” Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate GOP battles for leverage with House on spending Lawmakers, media team up for charity tennis event The Hill's Morning Report — Trump picks new fight with law enforcement, intelligence community MORE (R-W.Va.), who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said in a statement.

The foreign affairs bill included provisions requiring any reorganization efforts to consult with and notify the Appropriations Committee. It keeps foreign affairs staffing at 2016 levels but provides no funding for a variety of United Nations funds, such as UNESCO, the U.N. Population Fund and the Green Climate Fund.

“The challenges we face are increasingly dynamic and complex, with hostile regimes seeking to undermine our standing on the world’s stage at every turn," Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOn The Money: Turkey slaps more tariffs on US goods | Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill | Senate turns to toughest 'minibus' yet Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill White House staff offered discounts at Trump's NJ golf club: report MORE (R-S.C.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, said in a committee release. "Now is not the time for retreat.”

The financial services bill boosted funding for the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which is responsible for sanctions, and would provide $77 million for the IRS to implement the 2017 tax law. The measure also would fund a variety of oversight bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“This is a responsible bill that boosts our national economy, financial security, and government accountability, and I urge the Senate to pass it without delay,” Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down House Intel lawmakers introduce bipartisan election security bill Trump officials look to neutralize cyber threats in supply chain MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, said in a committee release.