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 RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyYellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing Yellen says it's important to 'act big' on coronavirus relief 3 ways Biden will reshape regulatory policy 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 AyotteBottom line Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 Bottom line MORE (N.H.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Arizona county's Republican committee debates censuring Cindy McCain MORE (Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment FDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges MORE (Alaska), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden DHS, Intel picks stress need to prioritize cybersecurity after SolarWinds hack Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article 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 McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment 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 KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (R-Ill.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Maine) back having a hearing. 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line Bottom line 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 BaldwinSenate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 Senate Democrats urge Google to improve ad policies to combat election disinformation MORE (Wis.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetTop Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions 50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump's moment of violence Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers MORE (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayHawley pens op-ed to defend decision to object to electoral votes amid pushback Demolition at the Labor Department, too Hawley, Cruz face rising anger, possible censure MORE (Wash.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (Va.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Biden consumer bureau pick could take over agency on Inauguration Day MORE (Mass.) and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingAngus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate 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 SchumerChuck SchumerNew York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Schumer: Trump should not be eligible to run for office again McConnnell, McCarthy accept Biden invitation to pre-inauguration church service 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 GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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.