This week: Congress expected to miss budget deadline

The House returns this week after a long spring break and is expected to blow past the statutory deadline to pass a budget, while across the Capitol, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee makes the rounds with a growing list of GOP senators.

Congress is supposed to pass a budget by April 15 under the Congressional Budget Act in order to begin the annual spending process. But House members will return into session Tuesday night after a nearly three-week recess without any plan ahead for passing a budget, let alone before the Friday deadline.

The House and Senate could still pass a budget after April 15 if they can reach an agreement. But neither of the two sides — conservatives who want lower spending levels versus lawmakers who want to adhere to last year’s bipartisan deal — are budging.


Nonetheless, House appropriators are still moving forward with individual 2017 spending bills this week despite the dim chances of them ever reaching the floor. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to advance legislation funding the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and military construction projects during a markup on Wednesday. Two subcommittees overseeing the Energy Department and Department of Agriculture will also meet to move their respective bills on the same day.

The House Appropriations Committee is using the spending levels outlined in last year’s budget deal for now so that its bills can still advance.

Some lawmakers have suggested using a process to “deem” the budget deal level for this year’s appropriations process. But Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) has maintained that the House should pass a budget first and adhere to regular order before taking up any spending bills on the floor.

Supreme Court vacancy

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland will sit down with Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' Barr fails to persuade Cruz on expanded background checks MORE, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as he continues his uphill battle of courting GOP support. 

The Iowa Republican will have breakfast will Garland Tuesday, though he's expected to explain why the Senate won't be taking up his nomination. 

Grassley has been at the center of the battle over the Supreme Court. Democrats and outside groups hope a wave of pressure will force him to cave and give Garland a hearing. 

Grassley, however, suggested the tactics were effectively a waste of time. 

"This strategy has failed to recognize that I am no stranger to political pressure and to strong-arm tactics," he said Thursday. "When I make a decision based on sound principle, I'm not about to flip-flop because the left has organized what they call a pressure campaign." 

A hearing before the Judiciary Committee would be a first step to getting President Obama's pick confirmed. 

In addition to Grassley, Garland will meet with GOP Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw McConnell lashes out at Democrats over 'unhinged' criticism of Kavanaugh MORE (Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) next week. 

Each of the senators backs leadership's strategy of denying Garland a hearing or a vote, though Flake has suggested he could support taking up the nomination during a lame-duck session if Republicans lose the November election. 

Democratic leadership remains adamant that Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet MORE (R-Ky.) will eventually cave, saying it's just a question of when. 

They point to a spate of recent polling on the Supreme Court, as well as the growing number of Republicans willing to meet with Garland, as evidence that they have momentum on the issue. 

Republicans, however, have brushed off the tactics, noting that only GOP Sens. Mark KirkMark Steven Kirk The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction Funding the fight against polio MORE (R-Ill.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE (R-Maine) back having a hearing. 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), a member of the Judiciary Committee, added that the frequent verbal attacks from liberal groups were only making Grassley more determined to not move the nomination. 

"It's just making Grassley madder," he told The Hill. "He's tough, and they've been so rude to him and so out of line." 

A White House official said Garland will also meet next week with Democratic Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinFederal funding for Chinese buses risks our national security Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall The Trump downturn: Trouble ahead for the US economy MORE (Wis.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate Bennet launches first TV ads in Iowa MORE (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayEXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball MORE (Wash.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Democrats introduce legislation to limit foreign interference in elections Navy acknowledges footage of 'unidentified' flying objects California Law to rebuild middle class shows need for congressional action MORE (Va.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (Mass.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year MORE (Maine). 

The latest round of meetings come as the Senate will vote on a lower-level court nomination. 

Senators will vote Monday on Waverly Crenshaw's nomination to be to a judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. Democrats had previously tried to bring him up for a vote but were blocked by Republicans.

FAA reauthorization

The Senate will also continue its work on legislation to reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs. 

The voted last week to take up the legislation after getting a deal on renewable energy tax breaks that Democrats had wanted in the bill. 

Senators have adopted nearly a dozen amendments, including two on airport safety. They rejected an amendment from Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) that would have frozen the current size of airplane seats. 

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) mocked his vote against the amendment Friday. Posting a photo of himself crammed into an airplane seat, he said his vote might have been a "tad impetuous." 

The Senate's legislation would greenlight FAA programs through September 2017, after Congress sent a short-term bill to President Obama's desk last month.

Senators have filed dozens of amendments to the legislation. 

One, from Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE would tie a fight over closing Guantánamo Bay to the aviation bill. 

The Colorado Republican filed an amendment that would ban using U.S. airspace to fly a detainee from the facility into the United States. 

The Obama administration handed over a plan earlier this year to close Guantánamo, including moving some detainees into the United States.

Internet access, Dodd-Frank changes

The House is slated to vote on legislation to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating the rates that companies charge consumers for Internet service.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler warned lawmakers in a letter last month that the bill could prevent the agency from applying its net neutrality rules to prevent Internet providers from blocking or creating paid fast lanes for preferred traffic. 

The bill is part of the GOP’s effort to water down the regulations since the FCC passed its net neutrality rules last year to ensure equal treatment for all Internet traffic.

The House is also expected to consider two financial services measures. One bill up for a House vote this week would make the budgets of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Office of Financial Research subject to the annual congressional appropriations process. Both were created as part of the 2010 Wall Street reform law and monitor risks to the financial system. 

The second measure would direct the Federal Reserve to expand its policy on the permitted debt levels of certain small bank holding companies. The current policy applies to companies with less than $1 billion in total consolidated assets, while the bill would increase the threshold to $5 billion.

—Mario Trujillo contributed.