McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending

McConnell sets 'minibus' strategy for 2019 spending
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday that he intends to pass spending bills for fiscal 2019 in groups of “minibuses,” marking a departure from the previous year's dysfunctional appropriations process.

The Kentucky Republican also set a goal of passing the first two appropriations bills on the Senate floor in June.

“It’s our hope that we’re not just marking these up in committee, but taking them to the floor and getting as close to a process that both sides will be comfortable with in the future,” he said.

Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Committee, McConnell said the strategy had been agreed to in consultation with Minority Leader Senator Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan Selling government assets would be a responsible move in infrastructure deal MORE (D-N.Y.) the bipartisan leaders of the committee and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump backs down in rare reversal Trump, GOP launch full-court press on compromise immigration measure Meadows gets heated with Ryan on House floor MORE (R-Wis.).

The announcement came moments before the committee voted unanimously to approve 302(b) allocations, which break down the agreed $1.244 trillion in discretionary spending for 2019 into 12 individual bills.

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Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTrump threatens to shut down government over full border wall funding: report Senate DHS bill includes .6 billion for ‘fencing’ on border Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE (R-Ala.) has laid an aggressive schedule of marking up the bills in committee before the July 4th recess.

Senators failed to pass any fiscal 2018 appropriations on the floor until nearly six months after the new year began, when they were included an omnibus bill that combined all the bills.

Shelby on Thursday spoke out against an omnibus approach, in which many of the decisions are often made at the last minute by leadership and the White House.

“I think we all agree that’s no way to fund the government. I think it’s bad for the agencies, it’s bad for our constituents, it’s bad for the country,” he said.

The Senate bills, which will require bipartisan support to pass on the floor, are likely a closer indication of what the final spending package will look like than those passing in the House, where only a simple majority is required.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFBI has no excuse to hide future scandals from American public Live coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report Student rips DeVos at school safety commission for failure to take on guns MORE (D-Vt.), the panel's ranking member, praised Shelby for working cooperatively with Democrats on compromise bills, and jabbed the House for its more partisan approach.

“It’s in sharp contrast to [the] other body. They’ve taken a different path,” he said.